Am I the only one who didn’t know?
I had an entirely different post in mind, until . . .
I read the most recent issue of Roxanne Gay’s addictive newsletter, The Audacious Roundup (highly recommended). One of her beguiling news tidbits this week reads:
“I cannot begin to wrap my mind around this story about a studio building a film studio and sports arena in… space? WHAT? And by 2024? Sure, Jan.”
Excuse me? Sure, Jan?
I read further down the page; no Jans mentioned. I clicked on the link and read the article about the purported studio in space. There was no reference to anyone named Jan. Yet I was pretty sure Roxanne Gay had not personalized her newsletter specifically for me.
Now, the name Jan has become, sadly, an anachronism. In my case, it’s short for Janet. Back in my elementary school years, there were usually at least two Janets in the classroom, plus a slightly more exotic Janice or Janelle. All of us, as we grew out of our Buster Browns and into go-go boots, tended to drop the second syllables of our monikers in favor of the more casual, sporty “Jan.”
But that was long ago — in terms of popular culture, it may as well have been prior to the Punic Wars. Jan is one of those names, unlike classics such as Katherine or Elizabeth (or Roxanne), that had its heyday decades ago and has since faded from fashion. A quick check on BabyCenter reveals that the name “Jan” peaked in popularity around 1956, which tells you something about my vintage.
So far in 2022, the name Jan ranks #1,843 in popularity. I don’t know the total range of names, but that’s clearly not an enviable position. However, Jan is up 2,240 points from 2021, so perhaps it’s beginning a resurgence.
For now, however, Jan remains solidly a boomer name. Which led me to suspect, from Ms. Gay’s wry rejoinder to the movie studio in space concept, that “Sure, Jan” is a thing.
Well, anybody who follows Tumblr, apparently, which I have neglected to do. I can only keep track of so many platforms, which I suppose is another Boomer symptom.
All it took was a quick Google search to enlighten me. It turns out that “Sure, Jan” is a well-known meme, and has been since 2015. It’s even arrived in the Urban Dictionary that year.
For those who remain as culturally benighted as I am: the “Sure, Jan” meme, or gif, or whatever, is also known as the George Glass meme. It refers to a scene from The Brady Bunch, or more specifically, the 1996 movie sequel A Very Brady Sequel. Behold the YouTube clip below and be edified:
So there you have it. In a cinematic moment that I somehow missed, “Sure, Jan” is enshrined as withering shorthand for “Not only do I not believe you, but your attempt at credibility is laughable,” or words to that effect. It also establishes George Glass as a symbol for pathetic aspiration, as well as Jan Brady as a hopeless poser, and Marcia Brady as a side-eye-slinging snark who affects weird pronunciation for “school.”
But the primary target of the joke is Jan. Not necessarily Jan Brady alone, but “Jan” as shorthand for a certain kind of person at whom we, from our hip and knowing perches, can safely roll our eyes. Jan, thus immortalized, doesn’t come off very well.
Well, okay. I’m not going to get all precious and thin-skinned about it. I can take a joke. I don’t need to talk to the manager.