Mark my words!
A screamer – other than my good self watching The Walking Dead – is another name for the exclamation mark, which nowadays seem to crop up at the end of written sentences just for the fun of it! Like that! There’s even a term for exclamation overload – bangorrhea (which, admittedly, does sound like an extreme fear of sausages).
Showbiz writers in particular have cornered the market in breathless over-emphasis, bridging the pesky gap between gossipy aside and newsworthy revelation by peppering every tidbit of celebrity intel with the ubiquitous screamer, as in:
‘Harry Styles get his hair cut!’
‘Keith Lemon discovers third secret of Fatima!’ (possibly).
In addition, since part of the important public service provided by showbiz gossip is the art of onegushmanship, one writer will see that Harry Styles headline and raise it with: ‘NEWSFLASH: Harry Styles has CUT his hair!’
Of course, let she who is without twin cast the first clone etc… Those of us who use social media are far from immune to the effects of bangorrhea (to which the only antidote is probably a withering stare from the likes of C T Onions, former editor of the OED, who knew his grammar onions).
Quite recently and without any hint of shame, I told someone on social media that they were ‘totes amazeballs!’ for nothing more shattering than posting a picture of themselves looking a bit moody. I have nothing to add in my defence, except that I was under the subliminal influence of headlines such as:
‘Miley Cyrus picks earring off ground at gas station!’ and
‘Kim Kardashian wears wrong dress to the park!’
This latter story turned out to be theme, not municipal-related – who knew that wearing latex hotpants or whatever could stop you getting your leg over a whirling teacup? (Incidentally, Kim’s hubby, Kanye West, is said to hold the record for the highest number of exclamation marks in one blog post – 188). Gasp!!
I should add, in all fairness to Kim and Kanye, that they did something quite interesting indeed when they called their daughter North. ‘It’s North West!’ hollered the press, perfectly reasonably in this instance.
And let’s not kid ourselves – showbiz writers have a tough time. While it seems unlikely that anyone could fail to thrill to the headline: ‘George Clooney to star in Downton Abbey Christmas special – SCREAM!’, even if it accidentally appeared in the FT next to a picture of George Soros, with so much cybersapce and glossy paper to fill, it’s inevitable that writers fall back on informing us that lesser ‘stars’ have left the building, their flip-flop on a sidewalk, their frappuccinco to defrost while they are pictured ‘sending a text! On A Tuesday! Wearing shorts!’
The ubiquitous screamer is here to stay. In fact, I fully expected Kim and Kanye to go one better with their next co-production and incorporate the screamer into the child’s actual name. Having broken with alphabetical tradition once, I also hoped they might reinstate the power of their special K and opt for Key! West.
That would be totes amazeballs with Knobs on!
Actually, they called their second child, a boy, the relatively understated Saint (no pressure there, then). Not sure he has a middle name, though I was delighted to discover he has a cousin called Penelope Scotland. (As luck would have it, a recent pub quiz I attended posed the question: ‘what’s the name of North West’s sibling?,’ offering a choice between Saint, Sinner, Sinbad and Synthesiser – all equally plausible, to be fair).
Final word from Saint and North’s name-dropping dad Kanye, who recently clarified his whole stance on screamers by claiming a preference for full stops over scripted hyperventilation, revealing that, ‘contrary to popular belief, I strongly dislike exclamation points!’