It’s no secret that we’re living in a world that is in an ever-increasing hurry to do absolutely nothing. We get road rage (newly diagnosed by epidemiologists who themselves have — you guessed it: too much free time — as “intermittent explosive disorder”) because we’re in a rush to get home to play a video game featuring people who kill each other in road rage incidents.
I’m as guilty of being rushed for no good reason as anybody. The other day I caught myself complaining because the microwave was taking too long to warm up something. There was 35 seconds of my life that I’ll never get back because nobody can invent a microwave that heats up a hot dog in less than five nanoseconds. As a result, I missed the opening credits of a Walker, Texas Ranger rerun on the USA Network. Oh the horror.
Our incessant hurries, combined with the rushed media culture and a need to save valuable space in newspapers, magazines and websites, are why it’s becoming quite the pop-culture fad to combine names.
It all started innocently enough when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez hooked up. Since “Ben and Jennifer” obviously takes up way too much valuable headline space in the entertainment rags and promotional time on Inside Edition, “Bennifer” was born.
It was a work of genius for a society scurrying to save time. For broadcasters, going from “Ben and Jennifer” to “Bennifer” allowed them to reduce a bulky five syllables to a much more manageable three, thus kick-saving a valuable two syllables that could be applied to commercial time or to simply gratuitously say “Tom Cruise.” In print it’s even better — “Bennifer” requires less than half the print space of “Ben and Jennifer.”
Entertainment tabloid television and print media was on to something, and it wasn’t about to stop.
After “Bennifer” split back into the two original separate biological entities, “Ben” and “Jennifer,” Affleck, not wanting to stress the already overworked creative well pump of tabloid journalists, began seeing Jennifer Garner, thus allowing the entertainment media to keep the “Bennifer” moniker. To avoid confusion, however, it was decided that this should be altered slightly to “Bennifer II” just to remind us that yes, even Hollywood relationships have sequels that star not all the original actors.
The fusion of names is in full avalanche now that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are together. “Brangelina” is now the space-saving mantra for any celebrity journalist.
Frankly, I’m shocked that the penchant for combining names of those closely associated with one another hasn’t yet caught on outside the culture of Hollywood. It saves space, saves time, and is as cute as anything. The extra space and time can then be used for even more space- and time-saving cutsie nicknames for multiple people.
There have already been clumsy attempts to shorten the all-too lengthy “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes” to “Tatie” or “Kom,” though “Kooky” seems to flow just fine while still allowing the reporter to maintain journalistic integrity.
I won’t be surprised if this turns into a full-blown fad and spreads outside the gates of Hollywood like bird flu for ADD sufferers. Since there’s such a fine line between the Hollywood media and the mainstream news organizations (one reports on the activities of the powerful and opinionated, and the other focuses more on politicians), what could be next?
First off, George and Laura Bush should be shortened to “Leorge” or “Gaura.” This would allow the New York Times to devote more space to tipping off terrorists as to how the U.S. government is not so secretly pursuing them.
Patrick and Ted Kennedy could be combined and shortened to simply “Whooaaa!”
Democrat congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would become “Repel.”
On the upcoming campaign trail, former president Clinton and his wife could combine their names to save space in the newspapers — room that could be put to better use policy wonking. This may very well happen at the New York Senator’s behest, when “Bill and Hillary” will be fused and become simply “Hillary.”
Come on, mainstream media; the time has come to begin fusing all names. The Hollywood tabloid media has invented winning and profitable approach. What the heck, combine the ads, too. After all, we’re in a hurry!
We’ll be right back after this word from “AT&Target.”
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