Continental is a rather infamous dive bar in New York City’s East Village. There’s a large, hard-to-ignore sign outside promising, in its most recent iteration, “6 shots of anything $12.”
Last week, musician Eden Brower noticed a different sign taped in the window of the bar, announcing that the word “literally” had been banned from the establishment.
Brower tweeted a photo of the sign, which read, in all caps:
Sorry but if you say the word ‘literally’ inside Continental you have 5 minutes to finish your drink and then you must leave. If you actually start a sentence with ‘I literally,’ you must leave immediately!!! This is the most overused, annoying word in the English language and we will not tolerate it.
Seems like a rather extreme solution to that “problem,” but OK. The bar updated the sign days later, throwing shade at one of America’s most famous families by stating, “Stop Kardashianism now!”
Bar owner Trigger Smith has since told Timeout New York that the sign is just a joke, and that his bar would be empty if he actually enforced the rule. “How could I mean that? How could I be serious?” he said. “I literally feel sorry for anybody who would take this seriously.”
But not everyone was laughing. When the sign went viral, some people on Twitter raised the issue of sexism, saying the sign is an example of the continued policing of how (primarily) women speak. The unnecessary mention of the Kardashians certainly helps make that case.
Before Smith clarified he was kidding, Art Silverman, senior producer of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” encouraged people to “literally test the waters” at Continental by using the word and seeing if they get thrown out.
Even though Smith has clarified the whole thing is a joke, we’d still be interested to see how that experiment ends.
So did Smith do it all for publicity? Continental is closing its doors for good on Jan. 30, after 27 years. Smith wrote on the bar’s website that “if we’re very, very busy for the remainder, it’s possible that we’ll have the funds to relocate!” The new sign has certainly gotten people’s attention.
And if history has taught us anything, it’s that aggressively telling people not to do something is a pretty surefire way to make them do that thing.