When and How Did "Edgy" Become an Insult?

The Blind Eternities forum

Posted on Feb. 3, 2019, 11:19 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

In the early 2000's, Batman Begins and Casino Royale were released, to great critical acclaim, and one of the main reasons that both audiences and critics enjoyed those films was because they rebooted their respective franchises, providing films that were much darker and edgier, compared to the previous several films of each franchise, which had been corny and campy.

However, in the years that have passed since those films were released, "edgy" has become an insult, a word that implies that a person or franchise deliberately acts "dark" or controversial simply to attract attention or appear to be "mature;" i.e., if a person says "oh, you are so edgy," they usually are saying it in a sarcastic manner, implying that the person whom they are addressing is simply seeking attention.

What does everyone else say about this? When and how did "edgy" become an insult?

Vman says... #2

I dont think ive ppersonally ever seen or heard of edgy being uaed as an insult. Tho i do notice the rise of the terms use as a substitute for just saying "darker" as its kind of more accurate alot of times. I guess edgy tends to bring up taboo themes such as suicide which is why it might be frowned upon

February 4, 2019 4:13 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #3

People have softened up. SJWs have taken over. People can't take a joke anymore. Everyone thinks everyone is out to get them and they have to take everything personally.

February 4, 2019 6:40 a.m.

Boza says... #4

I do not think it is an insult and I agree with Vman that the word has just been assimilated and used inappropriately at times. Like when people say "literally", they do not mean that.

February 4, 2019 7:14 a.m.

Icbrgr says... #5

I think this YouTube video does a good job with explaining this topic especially in regards to superheroes.

February 4, 2019 7:18 a.m.

Icbrgr says... #6

sorry for the dead link... This one should work

February 4, 2019 7:36 a.m.

cdkime says... #7

In my experience, edgy, in the definition you are referring to, has always been used derisively. From an etymological standpoint, this makes sense as the word’s other and older definition - on the edge, nervous - itself is derisive.

At least in my experience, the word in this sense has always been used to mock people or things which were dark for the sake of being dark. For people, this meant those who were part of counterculture, such as emos or goths; for film and entertainment, this means the DCEU, and films of that ilk.

Focusing on film, I do not remember either_Casino Royale_ or The Dark Knight being referred to as “edgy” films. Words like dark, gritty, or realistic were all thrown about, but edgy, I cannot recall. That is not to say it did not happen - but I suspect it’s somewhat negative connotation prevented its mainstream application to these films

Let us look at the DCEU for a bit, films which are often decried as edgy. Now, the only two films I have seen in this franchise are Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, both of which were quite disappointing. I will focus on Man of Steel, as Wonder Woman’s myriad flaws went far beyond trying to be dark.

Superman has always been portrayed as a very moral superhero. I would argue what makes him interesting is his god-like powers do not seem to corrupt his Midwest morality.

Man of Steel asked the question “what if Pa Kent was a jerk, and, by extension, Superman was a jerk?” They fundamentally altered Superman’s character, for little reason other than putting him in-line with the tone of Nolan’s Batman movies.

That is a film I would describe as trying to be edgy. The dark dullness permeated to the very core, leaving little room for actual entertainment.

To sum, edgy in this context has always been used as an insult; it just happens to be a popular, and often justly applied one, today.

February 4, 2019 8:52 a.m.

Dango says... #8

I have friends who fully embrace that they are edgelords, and while admittedly it can have a negative connotation associated with it, people who admit to being edgy tend to revel in it like it's their driving force and lifeblood.

In the context of the movie you described, "edgy" is used in an entirely different manner and is, in essence, a description of its gritty and darker tone. I still often see this used today as a compliment.

However, with the sarcastic use of the word you also described, I view that as a different tone from that of the prior description. In my experience, I am inclined to believe that us millennials are using the word in such a way simply for the meme of it because we seem to share heavily nihilistic humor. It's hard stuff to explain, but really my "edgy" friend is super into photoshop and uses a photo he edited of himself to look like he's emanating some sort of dark aura around him for his profile picture on all social media platforms and man if that isn't screaming edgy I don't know what does.

February 4, 2019 6:49 p.m.

legendofa says... #9

When I've seen "edgy" used as an insult, it's referring to someone or something who takes a grim/dark approach to something past the bounds of reason, to where it's being done simply for shock value--the "edgelord". I still see "edgy" being used positively, or at least neutrally, to describe a realistically dark or cynical scenario or environment. Soren Kierkegaard and Sergey Nechayev are edgy, Aleister Crowley and Francis Dashwood are edgelord-y. At least, that's how I interpret it.

February 4, 2019 10:51 p.m.

landofMordor says... #10

To echo legendofa and others, it's not like the definition of "edgy" has changed. It has simply evolved and taken on new meanings -- neither use of the word is invalidated. Much like "meme" didn't always mean "dumb pictures of your cat", but the new definition doesn't invalidate its old use as "an idea or behavior that spreads from person to person".

February 5, 2019 1:58 p.m.

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