Monday, August 22, 2011

Art of headline writing is alive and, well ...

The art of headline writing is alive and, well, I'm probably shooting myself in the foot (owch! ooch!) but I'm going to say it: as hackneyed and uncreative as ever. If I had a nickel for every newspaper and blog entry that began with the headline "The Help cleans up at box office" I could buy passage on the first vessel to take members of the public into outer space, which is where I imagine my former employers would like me to be (oops, I almost forgot about that non disparagement clause).

Well, maybe I wouldn't have found that headline so bothersome -- I should note here that I have neither read the book nor seen the movie -- if numerous oral historians who've dealt with the subject addressed in "The Help" were not outraged by the stereotyping and language in the movie.

That said, it also could be that such a headline bothers me because it's what's known in headline writers' lingo as "a gimme." Okay, there is no such thing as headline writer's lingo, I just made that up. But it's still a gimme. I prefer to see a little more thought go into a head, like maybe "The Help sweeps into first ..."

"Help sweeps" why, that's as idiotic a head, I say, as idiotic a head as my Aunt Jenny's corn puddin'

OK, case in point, here we go. I googled "The Help cleans up" (I tried Bing, but the only thing that came up was "The Help is dreaming of a white Christmas...") and here's what came up:

"The Help cleans up after Spy Kids' trail goes cold ..." The Guardian (note: Spy Kids' trail goes cold. Clever)

"'The Help' cleans up" ...

"The Help" finishes at top of box office ... Inside Movies/ (good and straightforward, but it should be noted that a day earlier, according to google,'s box office report noted: The Help cleans up with $20.5 million)

The Help cleans up at box office ... Chicago Sun-Times

The Help cleans up at the box office ...

"Help moves upstairs with $20.5M ... weekend/ (Moves upstairs, I like that)

Box office bloodbath: The Help cleans up ...

The Help mops up competition ... (Give that headline writer a Nat Sherman cigar ... okay, okay, it's almost football season, and maybe that headline writer is a woman)

The Help cleans up at the box office ... Richmond Times-Dispatch

Movie review: The Help cleans up the South too much ...

Did 'The Help' Clean Up? ...

Drama 'The Help' cleans up ... BBC News

"Fly me to the moon ..." (That's me, collecting my nickels)

There are several more pages of the same. Oh, wait ...

"Help" Beatles the competition ... I made that one up. Ten four, out the window (phweeeeee...THUD)

I say, you were supposed to throw the headline out the window, I say, not yourself. Looks like you done landed in my Aunt Jenny's corn puddin. That stuff is hard as a rock!

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