The philosophical underpinnings in the differentiation between Fail and Epic Fail

Rocketboom fairly recently released an episode of their excellent Know Your Meme series regarding the terminology of Fail, but also raised the point that the definition of Fail and Epic Fail has yet to be understood beyond “we know it when we see it”.

While this post may not give a definitive answer, it could cut down on some ambiguity. There were several things I noticed about this video that make it good material. Firstly, it’s not shit a la 95% of anything listed as Epic Fail in youtube. Secondly, the Fails within it hold very well defined Epicness within my newly proposed paradigm. This paradigm can be broken down into a handful of laws all Epic Failures must abide- have enough merit in these laws and you too can get an Epic Fail.

1. Epic Failures must result in significant loss or perceived significant loss.

A fail can hurt but isn’t particularly painful. A failure can be expensive but has a fairly easy workaround (such as 0:24 in the Rocketboom video). Epic Failures have extensive cost, be it financial, emotional or cultural. Workarounds are not just expensive but often cannot be fully reversible such as a bad tattoo, or the undying embarrassment as seen at 1:38 in the Epic Fail Part 2 video.

2. Epic Failures are culturally entrenched

Epic Failures are failures which have significant cultural value to them, usually as acts of extreme pain or stupidity. Most Epic Fails could have probably been avoided. Things like getting smashed in the nutsack, skiiers crashing or large objects falling in ice all are more epic than say, off-putting meatloaf which does not have any cultural attachment. As a further example, scuba diving, and coming face to face with the traditional Jaws-like shark, is an Epic Fail as is getting one-hit KO’d by a policeman you think you can take on. This can be reversed- so a padlock that is culturally entrusted to protect things but does the opposite also accomodates Epic Fail.

3. Epic Failures are complete in their Fail

Epic Failures are failures for which there is no reprieve, for which there is nothing else but Fail. A hurdle jumper in a race that makes all hurdles fall while others race ahead is Fail, the entire group failing all hurdles is candidature for Epic Fail. The environment around the Epic Fail is wholly centered to that Epic Fail. A mud-slide that occupies the entire screen with a climber grimly hanging on is Epic Fail.

4. Epic Failures are a thing of beauty

2:00 in Epic Fail Part 2 is perhaps one of the most beautiful fails ever- not only does the idiot fall off a roof, but his surfboard, having abandoned him in his task completely (fufilling Epic Fail law 2) proceeds to smack him, pointy-end first, in the balls. Snowboarders collide in mid-flight, acrobatics tumbles beautifully into chaos. In this way, Epic Failures can be often found in cases where Epic Win was attempted.

5. Epic Fails are impressively well co-ordinated

Epic Fails absorb completely. They hit exactly where it needs to be hit (often accomodating Epic Fail law 2). A car crashing into a side wall from careless driving is Fail, a car clearing that side wall to plummet into a spike that skewers the car directly through the radiator and out the other end is Epic Fail.

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~ by freeze43 on April 7, 2010.

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