Fifteen months ago, I gave the "#shapcrew" the mic at this blog, as @Mariomontega and @Vitamin_v12 – the original purveyors of shap – wrote a mission statement of sorts, explaining why Vancouver Canucks headcoach Alain Vigneault is a milt. Since then, shap has gone mainstream and the #shapcrew has expanded. At this point at least 30 individuals with varying levels of intelligence (from very smart to mind-numbling stupid), self-identify as "#shappers."
Last night, all of the group’s momentum climaxed with a hilarious Roberto Luongo endorsement and a Twitter-based awards show – the second annual Shappy’s – that was nothing short of rivetting.
I’ll wade into the muck a bit on the other side of the jump.
From my perspective, as a former Shappy’s winner, the shap crew are a group of mostly agreeable dudes with a talent for ADD-type trolling. They’re just out to have a laugh and talk sports on Twitter.
Because of their weird shap-dialect, characterized by the religious over-use of the word "shap" (a word that means many things) and the put down "milt", they’ve managed to garner attention in surprising places. Shap has been discussed on Sportsnet Pacific broadcasts of Canucks games, it has been included frequently in Jason Botchford’s "Provies" post-Canucks game break down articles, its a fixture on the Team1040, and it has confused the hell out of non-Vancouver based hockey fans many times over, which is probably my favorite part about the whole "movement."
I’ll never forget getting a DM message from TSN’s Aaron Ward one night, asking me if I knew what shap meant (this was during a commercial break while he was on the TSN panel, back in November 2011 – when I was still tweeting as @artemchubarov). I replied that shap was a word that meant lots of things, and he responded by DMing me links to the definition for shap and milt on UrbanDictionary.com (NSFW links here, and here).
Clearly the TSN panel was miffed by these weird, energetic Twitter accounts tweeting gibberish at them throughout the broadcast and they were having a good laugh about the whole thing. More importantly, the language and its usage was so distinctive (and the meanings of the words "shap" and milt" were so deliciously filthy) that it caught their attention.
As a dude who misses nothing more than reading William Safire’s (R.I.P) weekly language columns in the Sunday New York Times (back when I still occassionally bought a paper) – I’ve always had a lot of respect for the use of language and its potential power. Mario and VitaminV12 don’t have such aspirations, they’re just out to amuse themselves, but unintentionally they’ve stumbled upon something that a variety of folks find amusing, fun and meaningful.
Last night was "Shaps" coming out party, and you can read more about Luongo’s involvement in the shappy’s and the shappy awards themselves over at Puck Daddy and at the Province. Pretty unusual that a Twitter clique with a unique nonsense language gets that sort of media attention, but it’s a testament to the fact that shap has and will probably continue to "move" people on Twitter.
Of course the other side of "moving people", is that not all of that movement will be positive. The shap crew has its share of critics and frankly, it’s understandable. The ADD-cadences of their language are inaccessible, many "shappers" appear to be thin-skinned when they’re criticized, and inarguably they celebrate tweets from bonafide, unrepentant morons. Personally, I disagree with the crew on just about everything, from the utility of advanced stats to whether or not Mason Raymond deserves the death penalty; but what’s wrong with a bunch of guys who like to shap, really? The obvious answer to this question is: nothing.
Last night was a celebration of shap and the crew deserve their moment and their triumph. Getting Roberto Luongo to record an acceptance speech was a coup and a cherry on top of a big night. And my goodness was his acceptance speech funny:
I can’t wait for next years shappy’s, partly because it’ll be hard to top what the #shapcrew managed to achieve last night. Good luck bruhs.