Saturday, June 07, 2014

What's In A Name?

I was just in Barnes & Noble (while it lasts) and saw the featured book Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele.  Here's how it's described:

The star of the hit show Glee shares her experiences and insider tips on beauty, fashion, inner strength, and more in an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.

Fine.  But it's the title that interests me.  It's a take-off of Blond (or Blonde) Ambition.  The first time I heard that latter phrase was, I believe, back in the 90s, when Madonna went on her "Blond Ambition World Tour."  Since then, the term has been in wide circulation.  There was even a movie a few years back called Blonde Ambition.

But here's the point--it was already a pun.  It's parodying the longstanding concept of blind ambition. In fact, the blind/blond connection has been used elsewhere, such as in Legally Blonde and "the blond leading the blond."

Which is why you shouldn't call something "Brunette Ambition." It's a pun on a pun, twice removed from the original.  But I fear Lea Michele isn't aware of this.  Has the phrase "blonde ambition" become so common that you can think of it without considering the original?  (And does Michele also believe Madonna Louise Ciccone is the original Madonna?)

PS  I have a friend who made a short film entitled "A Hopeless Romantic." I said it's not a bad pun, but I think it's been done before. He said pun, what pun?  He'd never actually heard of the phrase "helpless romantic."

In fact, "hopeless romantic" has become common enough that I had to stop and think which came first when I wrote this post script.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually enjoy second degree references- it really shows the depth and creativity of English. We don't need no effin Academie

6:24 AM, June 08, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

If you've forgotten the original referent it works, but it's still the kind of thing that bothers me. I didn't like the movie title Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels since the original phrase refers to parts of a gun.

10:55 AM, June 08, 2014  

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