these are not the X you’re looking for

This snowclone comes from dialogue in the 1977 film Star Wars:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.

Obi-Wan draws attention away from the wanted-by-the-Empire droids traveling with him with a Jedi mind trick. In some cases, this snowclone is used as an error message (“these are not the files you’re looking for”) and sometimes it’s a direct reference to someone’s attempt to wave away another person’s curiosity. Users of this snowclone tend to stick to the geeky realm that a Star Wars reference still connotes. Variants on X include druids1, files, droods2, wavebands, Macbook Pros, Usenets and illegals and beers. X tends to be physical, but I don’t think tangibility is obligatory. That is, “these are not the philosophies you’re looking for” is not entirely unacceptable, under the right circumstances.

I’m not sure why the uncontracted “are not” has become the commoner form on the original “aren’t” [the top results for the “aren’t” form are direct quotes from the film]; perhaps it’s our association of a more formal mode of speech with the Jedi style embodied by Sir Alec Guinness.
1, 2The more I look around, the more I think these are typos or Cupertino-isms. The two contexts I’ve seen druids in don’t have any other reference to, y’know, druids. So maybe druids isn’t a valid example of X. But it COULD be.


7 responses to “these are not the X you’re looking for

  1. the “are not” version is trochaic. “aren’t” has awkward scansion.

  2. @joe: Good point. It isn’t quite as awkward in British English, but yes, the rhetorical effect of that change is significant.

  3. I think the “are not” version has come about because it allows you to emphasize the “not”:

    These are NOT the druids you’re looking for.

  4. There is a similar situation in 2 Kings 6:19. From the JPS translation:

    And Elisha said unto them: This is not the way, neither is this the city.

  5. “these are not the druids you’re looking for” comes from the world of warcraft game, as does the one with the leetspeak version drood.

    the game maker originally recorded voice for “i’m not the dryad you’re looking for” in warcraft 3.

  6. Pingback: These are not the Snowclones you’re looking for … « Serendipitous Surfer

  7. Pingback: misquotations | The Snowclones Database

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