Future historians may write that this month the Walt Disney Company finally jumped the shark.
The phrase is increasingly used in the film and television industry to indicate that something has reached its creative peak and henceforth will inevitable go downhill from there. The phrase comes from a September, 1977, episode of the long-running tv series, Happy Days, when “The Fonz,” in his identifying leather jacket, performs a stunt in which he is pulled by a speedboat over a penned-in shark near the Southern California coast.
The series continued on for nearly five years, so “jumping the shark” doesn’t mean it’s the sign of the end; it means that something or someone has run out of creative ideas, and it’s going to be downhill from there on. Rush Limbaugh in September, 2011, said Michelle Bachmann had jumped the shark with her story of a woman (who could not be found) who told her after a presidential debate that her child suffered from “mental retardation” after taking a vaccine that was being hotly debated. While it would be five months more before Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race, it was clear even to Limbaugh that it would all be downhill from there. Read more