You probably remember Microsoft’s office assistant Clippy from Word versions 1997 through 2003 (2004 for Mac). The character was technically called “Clippit” after 2000, but by then Clippy was permanently emblazoned in the cultural consciousness. And not, well, in a good way. For example, a 2012 Slate piece referred to the digital helper friend as “much-loathed.” Poor Clippy.
Last night Clippy re-emerged when Saturday Night Live aired a sketch about a fictional successor (hilariously and aptly) named Pushie. This description of Clippy, from a different 2012 Slate piece, is a good introduction to Pushie: “Around the first time Clippy launched himself, uninvited, between me and something I was trying to write, I found myself wishing Word had a simple, built-in button for ‘cut it out and never again do that thing you just did.’ ”
Pushie is the same way. He appears, dances around, terrorizes a middle-aged couple who are trying to draft a letter, and generally wreaks word-processing havoc.
Pushie: “I noticed you repeated ‘Phil’ in two consecutive sentences. Did you mean to do that?”
Middle-aged man: “Yes.”
Pushie: “Here’s a hint! To avoid repeat proper nouns, try replacing your second ‘Phil’ with a new word like Philly Cheese, Goof Troop, or Captain Martinez! I heard, replace all ‘Phils’ with ‘Goof Troop.’ Kablam!”
Pushie also forces a clip-art decorative border onto the man’s document (it’s pretty rad-looking, actually) and things devolve further from there. Finally the man threatens to turn Pushie off. “If you click Advanced Options you’ll see Murder Pushie. So, uh, just click on that to end my life.”
A Clippy spoof may not seem super current, but SNL might be trying to get its jabs in before Microsoft turns things around. Or maybe the show just knows that our wounds from early-2000s Clippy will never quite heal. Especially when automated assistants like autocorrect and Cortana are still whacked out so often.