It occurred to me while perusing the Vox-Dot-Com Twitter feed, after I had stopped laughing hysterically, that they may not be creating their farcical lie-infested headlines on purpose. It could be, however unlikely, that they simply just don’t know any better. So, for their benefit, I propose a comprehensive 5 step guide for purging the lies and mistruths from every single Vox headline. They won’t listen, of course, but fixing their headlines can be a fun game that all of us can play, once the methods are understood.
Fix One: Simple Inversion. Though the levels of convoluted anti-cognition, hypocrisy, double standard and dissonance may run deep in most Vox work, in some cases, it’s just a matter of inverting the statement to make it true. Say their headline says “New Study Finds That Sky Is Not Really Blue.” Invert it thusly: “New Study Confirms Sky Is Blue; Get Used To It.” Voila! Here’s another:
At first blush, this looks like a “How To” kind of headline, but it actually makes an implicit statement – a statement that’s so hilariously false that if you look at the reader comments, they contain nothing but 100% mocking jocularity about how Vox has spectacularly failed in this endeavor. Apparently, they’re not ashamed enough of that fact, because they seem to be bragging here about being able to debunk false beliefs without having it blow up in their faces. The true headline, simply inverted, would read: “Here at Vox.com, we try to debunk true beliefs, and boy does it blow up in our faces!” Here’s one more:
True version: “How African Americans victimize each other and the criminal justice system.” Easy!
Fix Two: Locate the Hidden Elephant. I think this one will be pretty clear when you see the first example:
Here, the elephant in the room is the fact that Ted Kennedy didn’t have any “finest moments.” In his best moments he was an undistinguished party hack, and of course, his one defining moment, obviously, was one of the most self-degrading, repulsive, criminal acts that anyone can claim, and it should have disqualified him from any future job of any kind. The trick here is to reverse the distraction and make it all about the elephant. New headline: “Ted Kennedy’s still dead, and still disgusting.” Here’s another:
Focus on the elephant: “This filmmaker fails to make a crucial point on the failure of Muslim leaders to struggle against radicalization.”
This one’s too easy: “Turns out, Democrats have been causing poverty all along.”
Fix Three: Look for the Word: Best/Worst/Right/Wrong and Kill That Word. Vox likes to tell you that you should let them make these value judgments for you. You should NEVER do that, for obvious reasons.
Fixed headline: “The WORST way to recycle your Christmas tree? Give it to a lion. Or a goat. Don’t be a lunatic!”
Fixed headline: “9 times Mr. Rodgers said exactly the most batshit crazy thing you can imagine.”
Fixed headline: “Damon Lindelof, on why writers should never trust their guts if it means making mistakes like he made with the LOST TV series that caused millions of viewers to avoid anything he ever wrote again.”
Fix Four: Look for the Word “Explain/Show.” Vox considers it their job to explain stuff to you, because they think you’re too stupid to figure it out for yourself. But most of the time, when they say they’re going to explain something, that something isn’t even a thing that exists in the real world. For example:
Don’t fall for the bait. The real headline should simply negate their slippery premise: “Obama HAS NO PLAN to deport Central American immigrants.”
Again, a bait and switch. It would, hypothetically help to tell you the real story of the rise of ISIS, but Vox has NO INTENTION of actually telling you that story. Fixed headline: “To understand ISIS, it helps to tell the story of Barack Obama’s direct role in their rise to power.”
Vox loves graphs. They especially love to graph inconclusive and misleading data and then tell you what they’d like you to believe. “You are getting very sleepy… You are succumbing to the power of the graphics that prove conclusively that the Patriarchy is REAL!”
I actually looked into the background of this plot above. Despite having a completely nonsensical ordinate that cannot be interpreted by anybody, the source data itself is murky. But there’s one thing certain. It’s impossible to conclude what they conclude from ANY set of real legislative voting data, because in politically polarized America, there are women and men in both political parties, and they vote ideologically. That means that the ‘R’ gals vote against the ‘D’ gals, along with their men. Always. There has never been an issue in which men and women representatives were united against each other as is implied by the title on this graph.
Solution? Throw this graphic out entirely, and replace it with one that’s meaningful. Like a graph of the number of women bringing rape accusations against Hillary Clinton’s husband, and the percentage of them who were pursued by investigators hired or appointed by Mrs. Clinton. Fixed headline? “Women would be screwed under another Clinton Presidency.”
Fix Five: Add Zombies. Seriously. Many of the Vox headlines are strictly WTF, and the only way to make them remotely interesting or relevant is to add an undead element.
Fixed headline: “Zombie invaders are mistreated by the institutions that are supposed to kill them.” Sure, there’s still a huge WTF factor, and neither one makes any sense in the real world, but at least now it’s interesting!
Fixed headline: “The Andromeda Galaxy has more than 100 billion brain-sucking zombies poised to take over earth.” MUCH better.
Now, go forth please, gentle Vox-Correctors, and keep them honest! Or, at least, amuse yourselves at their epic lameness!