"Shit happens" is a common
slangphrase, used as a simple existential observation that life is full of imperfections, or " C'est la vie". The minced oathform is "stuff happens". It is an acknowledgment that bad things happen to people for no particular reason. [cite journal|url=http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-19950501-000018.html|title=Shit happens|journal=Psychology Today|location=New York|date=May 1995|accessdate=2007-11-25] Etymologyresearchers have yet to determine when the phrase was first used or when it first appeared in print (the movie "Forrest Gump" posits a fictional explanation for how it originated).
The origin or earliest use of the phrase is uncertain. In a review of a book of quotations, "
The New Yorker" critic Louis Menandobserved that it was "extremely interesting to know, for instance, that the phrase 'Shit happens' was introduced to print by one Connie Eble, in a publication identified as "UNC–CH Slang" (presumably the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), in 1983." [citation|last=Menand|first=Louis|title=Notable Quotables (Book review of “Yale Book of Quotations”, ed. Fred Shapiro)|journal=The New Yorker|year=2007|issue=February 19, 2007.] It was in common use by early 1988, appearing for instance in a April 1 edition of the "Penn State Collegian". [cite web|url=http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Default/Skins/BasicArch/Client.asp?Skin=BasicArch&&AppName=2&enter=true&BaseHref=CLG/1988/04/01&EntityId=Ar00902|title=View Point on Life|publisher=Penn State Collegian|accessdate=2008-05-14] That same year, a man was charged with obscenity for displaying a bumper sticker with the phrase. [cite web|url=http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1278077.html|title=VA Bumper Sticker Charge Dropped, But Case Still Sticky|publisher=The Washington Post|accessdate=2008-05-14]
The phrase was featured in the movie "Forrest Gump" during the eponymous character's run across the
United States. While being interviewed by an excited fan, Forrest steps in a pile of dog faeces. When this is pointed out by the fan, Gump's response is a mere "it happens." Inspired by the apparent "wisdom," the fan subsequently creates a "shit happens" slogan, that is then seen to appear as a bumper sticker on a pickup truckas another vehicle crashes into it on an intersection (in some TV editions of the film, the audio is blanked out to say "it happens" and the "SH" is blurred out on the bumper sticker fact|date=October 2008).
The phrase has inspired a list of
jokes on religious and philosophical views, disseminated widely on the Internetand sometimes known as the "Shit List". Various views (e.g., of Catholicism, Buddhism, existentialism, Communism, etc.) are summed up into variations on the phrase, for instance: "Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?" [cite web|url=http://www.gnu.org/fun/jokes/shit-happens.html|title=Shit Happens|publisher=gnu.org|work=Humor collection|accessdate=2007-11-25]
Sithhappens" was jocularly used in fan circles as a placeholder for the name of "" when the movie's name had not yet been revealed. Three days before the release of the film (on May 16, 2005), an official trailer was posted with the phrase "In 3 days, Sith happens." [cite web|url=http://www.starwars.com/episode-iii/release/trailer/tminus3.html|title=Trailer|publisher=starwars.com]
A number titles say or allude to the phrase:
*Popular hardcore band
Every Time I Diereleased a DVD entitled "Shit Happens" in 2006.
*Debbie Lazarus published "Sh*t Happens: The Book" in December 2006.
*A book by Stephen Clarke is entitled "Merde Happens".
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