Economic Times headline in bad taste

Media & Entertainment

I am an avid practitioner of the under-recognized skill of punning. Given half a chance, I would pun on everything. Given a second chance, I would pun on the pun as well. After that I know you won't give me a third chance!

I can sit straight-faced and not squirm or throw-up when exposed to what is called dirty/tasteless humour — the kind which makes fun of September 11 attacks, Princess Diana's fatal accident, Kurt Cobain's suicide, or even dead-baby jokes.

Credentials established: my point is…

I find the following headline in the Economic Times of May 4, 2006 in bad taste: "Pramod loses the Mahajung" .

Economic Times, and a few other popular publications, have over time adopted this style of writing headlines with puns. And I must say, they've been doing it fairly well.

However this headline betrays a total lack of sensitivity and etiquette, as what is being reported is an individual's death, and that too within hours of it happening.

[Some people rationalize the series of 9/11 jokes and cartoons as a response of people trying to come to terms with a psyche-scarring tragedy, that was as collective in its expanse, as it was personal in its impact. With time, the wounds heal, and life goes on. And then people dispassionately respond with humour.

But these are people, who realize that they escaped unscathed from the event.]

What adds to the disappointment here is that Economic Times otherwise has an excellent reputation in terms of quality of content and editorial integrity.

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2 thoughts on “Economic Times headline in bad taste

  1. “Pramod loses the Mahajung”
    Are we saying that punning on something serious is not allowed till some time has passed and the pain vanished?

    If yes…what is a safe time gap? And what are the factors that influence the time interval?

    ;-)

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  2. I wouldn’t say ‘not allowed’ — that sounds more like China, or emergency days India :)

    And obviously we don’t expect there to be a hard and fast ‘safe time gap’. But less than 24 hrs is certainly less by my sensibilities (and I assume by some others’ too).

    I guess humour (and that too manifest as a pun on the name of the deceased) was not the first expected emotion displayed in such circumstances.

    As for the factors, every death is tragic, but somehow the shock (and therefore the hurt) is greater in violent deaths.

    I have a simple case. If this were the headline after Pramod Mahajan lost the Lok Sabha elections, I would certainly have smiled and said, ‘wow, what smart copy’. But in the current case, I could neither smile, nor pat the writer for copy well-written. I was still grieving.

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