Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Hey There Delilah: Shirt Happens
Cable news giant CNN appears to be testing a new feature that will allow you to order a T-shirt emblazoned with a headline from its web site. The beta site is already attracting the derision of bloggers. I was prepared to heap abuse on poor CNN myself, but then I paused. Why shouldn't people be able to order a T-shirt that has a CNN headline on it?
The gleeful scorn with which some bloggers met the CNN T-shirt news is unseemly for a few reasons. The first is that most of these bloggers who are calling the CNN shirts lame already wear lame T-shirts. They probably have drawers-full of 100 percent cotton Hanes Beefy Ts with lolcatz, "Zero Wing" and other ironic sayings on them. Second, the underlying premise of the Internet--the one most vigorously embraced by most bloggers--is that you can do anything. You can find anything, post anything, download anything. The web is ancient Rome, baby, and we're all Caligula. You want to pirate "Silver Surfer," upload a video clip of your roommate barfing, sleep with your sister and make your horse a consul, go ahead! But let poor CNN dabble with a T-shirt and suddenly it's "the death of broadcast journalism."
If CNN goes through with this--and it appears that some of its beta T-shirt web site has already been taken down--I can guarantee you that first in line to buy the shirts will be spittle-spewing bloggers who will defend their purchases by arguing that they wish to wear their chemises in an ironic, post-modern way.
Pest in Show
Some of the bloggers say the shirts will be lame because CNN.com's headlines are lame. Okay, there's something to that. But all news web site headlines are lame. They're designed to be read by machines, not humans, an attempt to achieve maximum Googlage and linkage. I was told that to increase traffic to my blog I should use straightforward headlines. But simple, boring headlines leave me so cold that I opt instead for inscrutable ones like today's, which will guarantee no one but adolescent girls and dyslexic "Forrest Gump" fans find me.
Anyway, everyone knows the best news headlines are on tabloids. The New York Post's "Headless Body in Topless Bar" and the Sun's "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster" are classics of the genre.
The British are also good at writing "news bills," those advertising signs outside of news agents and tobacconists. Here's one I snapped this morning:
The problem arises when you don't put the sign in its holder correctly:
An "ex pest?" Well what's the problem then?