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Don’t shoot the piano player

De catchphrase Don’t shoot the piano player is hét zinnetje waarmee je als uitvoerende partij verantwoordelijkheid voor een fout kunt afschuiven. Maar als je erover nadenkt is het een vreemd spreekwoord.

Herkomst van ‘Don’t shoot the pianist’

De zin is afkomstig van Oscar Wilde, die in een verslag over zijn reis door het Wilde Westen schrijft:

From Salt Lake City one travels over the great plains of Colorado and up the Rocky Mountains, on the top of which is Leadville, the richest city in the world. It has also got the reputation of being the roughest, and every man carries a revolver. I was told that if I went there they would be sure to shoot me or my travelling
manager. I wrote and told them that nothing that they could do to my travelling manager would intimidate me.
 They are miners — men working in metals, so I lectured to them on the Ethics of Art. I read them passages
from the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and they seemed much delighted. I was reproved by my hearers for not having brought him with me. I explained that he had been dead for some little time which elicited the enquiry: “Who shot him’?
 They afterwards took me to a dancing saloon where I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice :


The mortality among pianists in that place is marvellous. Then they asked me to supper, and having accepted, I had to descend a mine in a rickety bucket in which it was impossible to be graceful. Having got into the heart of the mountain I had supper, the first course being whisky, the second whisky and the third whisky.

Oscar Wilde, Impressions of America

Wat is er catchy?

Het beeld dat er in een ver land pianisten worden doodgeschoten door bargasten spreekt geweldig tot de verbeelding. Een barpianist is bovendien iemand die met nadruk in opdracht werkt.

Karremans en Mladic: ‘You are a very bad piano player’

Oscar Wildes meme speelt een rol in de Srbrenica-zaak (YouTube):


Karremans: What I always used to say, I’m a piano player. Don’t shoot the piano player.
Mladic: You are a poor pianist. Are you a married man… do you have children?

Mladic vertaalde de catchphrase dus weer terug naar een bedreigende Wild West-situatie.

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