Thursday, May 04, 2006

James Gandolfini Gets 'Whacked' in the Press

I was reading about James Gandolfini's scooter accident in New York City the other day and noticed something "fishy" about the news coverage. If you haven't heard, Gandolfini (a.k.a. The Sopranos' Tony Soprano) was hit by a taxi while riding his Vespa scooter in the city. He wasn't hurt.

Anyway, I did a Google search for news on the accident and was struck (sorry, bad pun) by the fact that a good percentage of the headlines used the word "whacked" to describe what happen to Gandolfini. In a very unscientific survey, I found 25 articles about the accident and five of them (that's a total of one-fifth for the mathematically challenged, like myself) had "whacked" in the headline.

Here are some examples:

"Sopranos" star whacked by NYC cab - Boston Herald
Cab whacks 'Sopranos' Gandolfini -
Cab whacks 'Sopranos' Gandolfini - New York Newsday
Cab whacks 'Sopranos' Gandolfini - Orlando Sentinel

The fact that the headline from three different newspapers is identical is another matter altogether. I guess it's natural–given the tendencies of the tabloids–to refer to the accident as Gandolfini being "whacked." After all, he plays a mob boss on TV. But, come on. Just because he's Italian-American and plays a Mafioso on TV does not make this kind of stereotypical wordplay acceptable.

Maybe if the copy editors at these newspapers showed a little imagination, instead of reverting to their tried and true patterns, things would be different. Let's hope they wake up one day and realize that this is unacceptable.

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