Hollywood Writers Warn: Running Out of Cliches for Rom-Com Titles
Television City, CA (AP) – The Screenwriters Guild of America issued a statement today warning the public that the film industry is running out of hackneyed expressions to use as the titles for romantic comedies.
“The number of cliches at the disposal of our writers is rapidly shrinking, and in just a few years we may run out of such turns of phrase entirely,” read the statement. “We call upon the media and the public at large to increase the rate at which new cliches are created so that our members can continue to provide the world with the formulaic, mediocre pieces of cinematic turd it has come to expect.”
According to Sel U. Lloyd, an expert on screenplay titles, writers first began to notice the cliche shortage in the 1990’s, when Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail drove home to the industry that they had begun to grasp at straws in order to avoid reusing an already-claimed cliche (it apparently did not bother the industry that the two films were cast using the same lead actor and actress, as had several others since Joe Versus the Volcano several years earlier).
However, said, Lloyd, despite repeated warnings within the industry, studios disregarded the dangers and continued to call for new romantic comedy screenplays without considering the effects that a lack of a pithy or cutesy cliche in the title would bring. He attributed this near-sightedness to the influence of the horror and porn film genres, in which using the same title as a previous work has little bearing on the film’s popularity or quality.
Linguist Noam Chomsky doubts that the public can meet the demand for new turns of phrase, despite the rate at which internet memes catch on and neologisms are spread through the public consciousness. “The unprecedented interconnectedness of world culture notwithstanding, new coinages are just as rare as ever,” he said. “Occasionally a politician or other public figure will utter a new phrase that gets a burst of attention, but more often than not, the phrase is useless in the romantic comedy title genre.”
“Take ‘Binders Full of Women,'” he said, referring to an unfortunate choice of words on the part of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a debate with Barack Obama. “It’s a phrase with some staying power, but the film genre with which it is compatible would hardly be anyone’s idea of a romantic comedy.”
“Well, maybe the Marquis de Sade,” he added.
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