You’ve heard the phrase. “A diamond in the rough.” Somebody who’s full of potential but has a coarse exterior. But what do you think the phrase means in a literal sense?
I’ll tell you what I thought. My entire life, I was under the impression it meant a diamond buried deep in the ground that needed to be unearthed, a gem hidden below the surface that could be brought to the fore.
Is that what you thought too? Because if so…
You’re goddamn wrong!
Yesterday, I found myself using the phrase, and suddenly my brain began to process it. I’d always assumed “the rough” was a place, kind of like in golf when your ball lands in “the rough.” But no!
“The rough” isn’t a place; it’s a state of being. The diamond is unpolished, or in professional gem-cutter parlance, IN THE ROUGH!!!
Because when you first see a diamond, you’re all meh about it. It’s just some hunk of rock. But then when you cut and polish it, kablam! You’re a freakin’ chamillionaire.
I was a bit shaken by this realization. I take misunderstanding of language incredibly seriously. After all, there’s reason my chosen profession is unemployed screenwriter. How could I be worthy of that noble mantle if i didn’t understand this basic concept?
But NO, I told myself. This is not your fault, Russ. There’s no reason why you, in this modern age, should be expected to know some niche hobbyist’s random colloquialisms just to understand a rare idiomatic expression!
And then it came to me. I realized the reason I’d spent my whole life misinformed, that year after year after year I’d been living a lie…
That’s right. Motherfuckin’ Aladdin.
I distinctly remember that’s where I first heard the phrase.
It’s that goddamn sand-cat cave. It opens its mouth and talks about how there’s a diamond in the rough. And then what’s inside that cave, deep in the depths of the earth? A bunch of fuckin’ diamonds! And others jewels and shit.
Little did they realize their film would feed an entire generation a heaping helping of misinformation. By far the sneakiest element of their dastardly plot was that the meaning of this misunderstood phrase ends up being the same. Whether the diamond needs uncovering or polishing doesn’t matter! The result? We’ve all been using the phrase correctly despite not understanding what it means!
Maybe it was their plan all along! A nihilistic linguist’s prank, insidiously manipulating our slumbering subconscious. Of course kids are going to think that those diamonds buried in the sand are “in the rough.”
“Oh, what a great pun we have made,” the writers probably thought. “In the rough/in the rough. A ha ha la tee doo tee dahahoo.” Laughing their hoity-toity laughs.
This is an exposé, people. Disney needs to be held accountable for its actions. I want to how many people had this wrong. Because I brought it up to my girlfriend, and she had it wrong (and was very on board with my Disney theory). Then I brought it up to beloved Sam, reasonably ludicrous co-conspirator, and he also had it wrong!!!
Sam then explained that this was a wonderful example about the endless mutability of language, of the power of puns and creativity to hew new meaning out of the ever-less-solid rock of the collective lexicon.
But that’s a bunch of hogswallop. All I have to say is:
What the fuck, Disney? What the fuck?