January 25, 2008

Memes as Headlines

I was reading the Jan. 25, 2008, edition of Economist.com. The headline for an article reporting Mexico's war on illegal drugs, is "No country for old men."


Yet another case of editors appropriating titles and phrases from literature or popular culture, or even from the lexicon of clich├ęs , for use as headlines.

"No Country for Old Men" is the title of a Cormac McCarthy novel from which Joel and Ethan Coen adapted a screenplay and directed a movie of the same name.

How much lazy headline writing have you seen?

I've seen plenty of uses of "a clean well-lighted place" (Hemingway's short story) in headlines.

Is this lazy?

Or is it smart communication? Essentially using memes as headlines. (If you are not familiar with the concept of a "meme," follow this link.)

"Master of his domain." "Great white whale." "Will it blend?" "It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times." "Around the World in (Almost) 80 Days." "A Bird in the Hand is Better than One in the Bush." "Where's the Beef?" "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That." "War and Peace." "All's Fair in Love and War."

Please send me any memes as headlines you come across.

DennisFreire at GMail dot com

[A related area is that of editors copying the headlines appearing in other publications. That would be "headline plagiarism."]

[[Also related is the art of new media headline writing for purposes of optimizing search engine results and maximizing Adsense activity.]]