11 June, 2008

Babette Ate Oatmeal


So here's the thing.

I'm looking at the New York Times website, and they had an article about how you can now buy T-shirts with headlines from the CNN website.

I'm not joking. CNN.com actually has a T-shirt store on the site, where you can currently buy T-shirts announcing things like "Teen calls prom 'most wasteful event'" or "Bo Derek battles illegal wildlife trade". But you need to be in quick, because you can apparently only buy a headline T-shirt for as long as it's in the "Latest News" list.

The T-shirts (available in black, white, or grey) carry the headline, as well as a date-and-time-stamp and the statement "I just saw it at CNN.com".

Here's what I want to know. Who on earth came up with this idea? How on earth do you come up with an idea like this? And why on earth would you spend money on something like that? The point of a headline is to tantalise the reader, make them think "I want to know what that article is about". But many of these headlines make no sense away from the actual article. You need to actually read the article to know that "Spike to Clint: We're not on a plantation" is about Spike Lee criticising Clint Eastwood for the lack of African-American characters in his Iwo Jima movies. But you can't read the article because it's not on the T-shirt, so the title just stays there, existing with no reason for being there. Most of the headlines are neither witty enough to be amusing, or sufficiently self-explanatory to work once they're off the website and onto a T-shirt. And in any case - it's a news headline. It gets out-of-date or irrelevant pretty fast, and within a week you're wearing last night's fish-and-chips paper.

Now on the other hand, if The Onion produced T-shirts, that would actually make sense, because Onion headlines are intended to be funny on their own - the accompanying article is just an extension of the joke. You don't need to actually read on to find headlines like "Way Too Much Raised For Bronchitis Research", "Museum Of Television And Radio Acquires Rare 'Caroline In The City' Episode", or "FCC Okays Nudity On TV If It’s Alyson Hannigan" funny. Because they're funny in and of themselves. Plus, since they're fake news, you never need to worry about being out of date. You see, these would work on a T-shirt. CNN headlines just do not.

3 comments:

eT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eT said...

How zeitgeist-surfing is that? Pity no-one will be able to make sense of the headline within about a week of its purchase. Although I quite like "Anyone for watching network TV? Please?"

Matthew L said...

They didn't have the Network TV T-shirt when I looked at it earlier today. That's one headline that (a) does actually stand when seperated from the article, and (b) one I might actually be tempted to buy.