TL;DR: It is all in the headline.
Here’s Twinkle Khanna, stepping out for her husband’s birthday celebrations.
And here is the headline chosen by a news publication:
My concerns: Did Twinkle wear a ‘bold’ dress? Sounds like the ‘bold dress’ wore Twinkle instead? Dear headline-writer, when you label a dress as ‘bold’, you are implying that the said dress is showing a willingness to take risks.
The more I look at the choice of words in the headline, the more I realise that the headline has nothing to do with Twinkle at all. It is about the misadventures of the ‘bold dress’. Period. Twinkle’s name can be replaced with any other celebrity’s and the story will still be the same. A class candidate for the ‘Sexy Lamp Test’.
Does this headline pass the test?
I bet you a hundred misogynists it won’t.
The Sexy Lamp Test measures how relevant a female character is to the plot of a work. “If you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft. They have to be protagonists, not devices,” says American comic book writer and editor, Kelly Sue DeConnick,
Let’s take a look:
The story is still about the courageous dress, right? Dear headline, you need another draft!
I read more headlines in a day than I read books/novels/comics. And what exactly are the recent headlines telling me? I decided to take a few such celeb headlines and see if they pass or fail.
Take a look:
Arguably one of the best tennis players in the history of the game:
An actor indisputably worth her salt:
Next, a piece about “famous actresses’’ and their “wardrobe malfunctions”. The piece focuses on “heroines who accidentally ‘flashed’ in public and were caught on camera.’’
If you promise to not gag yourself with a spoon, I will show you the original headline.
Let’s, for a moment, set aside the outrageous need for an article like this, which fails all conceivable tests, and focus on the headline, and then the reworked headline:
Here’s another such gem:
An actor, singer, film producer, philanthropist, and National Award winner:
(PS: Sexy Lamp is allowed to be ‘sexy’ only on selective occasions.)
A celebrated actor, a former national-level badminton player, and a National Award nominee:
Alia Bhatt, Again...
If we allow ourselves to cross the seas,
An Oscar-winning actor:
Singer, actor, and Teen Choice Awards winner:
An actor, a Screen Actors Guild Award nominee, and a celebrated women’s rights advocate:
Our women celebrities and public figures can be replaced with something as still and passive as a lamp in fishnet stockings and the narratives are still the same.
Isn’t that awfully sad?
Bottom Line: Our news headlines are bringing ‘sexy’ back... not in a good way.
(The above is a part of TLDR (Too Long. Didn't Read), a weekly blog that aims to crunch things down for you. I will give you the long and short of most things that need to be taken extremely seriously like your bookshelf, beer, existential dread, aimless conversations, rainy days and bubble-wrap. I promise to cater to all readers, but I brazenly harbour a soft-spot for skimmers, bathroom-readers and infinite scrollers. Now, let's bring the written word back!
P.S: Follow me @medhac1)