Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rogers v. Grimaldi, obsolete?

Whatever happened to pungent, enigmatic titles like Three Days of the Condor or Cheers? . . . If one were searching for the sneezing panda clip, one would, quite reasonably, type “sneezing baby panda.” As a result, many online articles now eschew the barrier of a stylized title to aid search results.

These are practical developments, and yet they lean on—and help cement—some rotten assumptions about narrative. To call a clip about a sneezing baby panda “The Sneezing Baby Panda” is to decisively restrict its meaning. For this reason, YouTube clips are reliable conversation-stoppers: The video is packaged as a discrete bit of information (we will click on the link, a baby panda will sneeze, we will laugh) rather than, say, an experience (the meaning of which cannot be predetermined). There is nothing to say about the clip, and the name confirms it.

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