In the 2010 film "Easy A", there is an exchange between several characters:

Rhiannon: George is not a sexy name. George is like what you name your teddy bear, not the name you wanna scream out during climax.

Mr. Griffith: I hope by "climax" you weren't talking about...

Olive Penderghast: The stable and self-perpetuating end-stage in the evolution of a plant community. Like "by George, that tree has reached the final stage of ecological succession".

Rhiannon: And it only took 20 seconds.

What does Olive mean here by "The stable and self-perpetuating end stage in the evolution of a plant community."?

Please note: English is not my native language, so the simpler and clearer you can make your explanation, the better.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Dan Bron, Mitch, Kristina Lopez, Edwin Ashworth, user66974 Aug 26 '14 at 17:15

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  • Can you give more details? Your title doesn't seem to have anything to do with the contents. – Mitch Aug 26 '14 at 13:19
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    Which words are confusing you? What happened when you looked them up in a dictionary? – Kevin Workman Aug 26 '14 at 13:24
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    I'll note none of the answers took a whack at actually interpreting the botanical definition Olive recites, nor the (BrE) idiom "By George", she uses to tie it back to Rhiannon's initial comment. – Dan Bron Aug 26 '14 at 14:08

The other answers correctly explain that Olive Pendergast is jokingly assigning an irrelevant, scientific definition to the word "climax" where it was clearly meant by Rhiannon to describe a sexual orgasm. I would add that a big part of the joke is that the definition of "climax" used by Olive Pendergast describes an ecological process that would take hundreds or thousands of years. On the other hand, the activity leading to the sexual sort of climax, as Rhiannon notes, can often be measured in seconds.

The other humorous contrast is between the titillating nature of a discussion about sex versus the technical and (some would say) boring nature the topic of ecology.

Edit: Dan Bron notes in a comment that "none of the answers took a whack at actually interpreting the botanical definition Olive recites, nor the ... idiom 'By George'" -- OK, I'll take a crack at it.

"By George" is an expression of surprise or amazement (and a "minced oath" -- here, a euphemism for "By God." http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/minced-oath.html)

And as far as I can gather, "the stable and self-perpetuating end-stage in the evolution of a plant community" describes the following: in a particular geographic area, the mix of plant species will change over time. The "climax community" describes a more-or-less stable end-point in the process, like an old-growth forest.

It's not necessary to really grasp what "climax" means in this sense to enjoy the joke, though.

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    Mark, if I had yet another +1 to give you for that edit, I would :) – Dan Bron Aug 26 '14 at 14:52
  • Very good. "Climax" means peak in many different senses. The plant community "peaks" (reaches a plateau) after 1000's of years. I think that when Olive finishes Mr Griffith's sentence "you don't mean..." , she is confirming "Rhiannon did not mean climax in the sense of ...", and Rhiannon adds "the climax I was talking about only took 20 seconds". The use of "by George" was a nice touch. Not many people in real life would be able to cram that much cleverness into an answer to a teacher who catches them talking about sex. – Floris Aug 26 '14 at 15:31

It is a joke.

Movie scene

The conversation is between two girls (Rhiannon and Olive) about the name George which according to Rhiannon is not a great name to shout out during sex.

The last part is overheard by a teacher and Olive tries to explain away the word Climax in a non sexual way - taken verbatim from

Dictionary.reference.com - Climax

4. an orgasm.
5. Ecology. the stable and self-perpetuating end stage in the ecological succession or evolution of a plant and animal community.

I did not hear the 20 second in the clip but I did hear a reference to a famous scene in The Breakfast Club: Don't mess with the Bull, you'll get the horns

  • Downvoter comment please? – mplungjan Aug 26 '14 at 19:21

It's a joke.

With "climax", you'd think of the sexual sense.

The other "long, complicated" phrase the person recites, is, a dictionary definition of a tedious, non-sexual, meaning of the word "climax."

This is something of a standard form in English. It plays on the fact that words often have two+ meanings.

So; if there's a word, X, that has a sexual or rude meaning: it's kind of funny to say "oh, you mean _ _ _ " .. and then give the other, totally boring, meaning for X.

To make sort of a really bad example, something like "I'm really wet..." "Oh, you got rained on?" It's the same sort of "joke" - you know?

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