Thursday, March 29, 2012

Variety Slanguage

Variety magazine, which started publishing in 1905, was a weekly review of the entertainment business.  It featured its continually augmented slanguage, with words such as biz, Beantown, boffo, Cincy, commish, d.j., flop, fave, Gotham, headliner, hoofer, oater, prexy, sex appeal, soap opera, show biz, sitcom  etc.  Some terms, such as sex appeal and sitcom, were originally coined by Variety in its development of a show business in-language.

Variety was also known for its headlines; the most famous one of which was a 1935 headline:

"Sticks Nix Hick Pix," which meant that people in rural areas ("the sticks) reject ("nix") motion pictures ("pix") about rural life (residents there called "hicks"). The common view was that themes of upper-class life would not be popular in the countryside; they would want to escape into fantasy by seeing the lives of the wealthy on the screen.

Variety's headlines have been subject to parodies.

"Dix Pix Six Nix Flix; Hix Kix" is one possible one, in which a hypothetical Board of Censors consisting of six bluenoses chaired by a Ms. Dix banned certain movies for allegedly being pornographic.  Rural residents, who liked their dirty movies, protested.  It's the American way.


Big Sky Heidi said...

Very odd. I had no idea where those show biz expressions came from.

Mike said...

Sounds like the place to go for bad puns. Now if I just cared about what they write about.

Hell Hound said...

I thought Gotham came from Batman.

Bilbo said...

Fascinating and witty. As a language lover, I especially liked the link to the Variety dictionary.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

truly funny. Variety was a mag for its time -- it contributed to the language

Svejk said...

If that's the case,then Variety was one of the major debasers of the English language.