Writing for websites and newspapers, I've grown accustomed to the sometimes fun, sometimes annoying task of headline and caption writing. Those catchy little zingers that supposedly reel the reader into your story with "clever" plays on words— adding that extra dollop of "punch."
Frequently, I've had no control over the headline grabber (like when I argued with an editor over the header for You've Got Mail--she preferred "You've Got Treacle" over "The Schlock Around the Corner") and sometimes they've made me chuckle (like a colleague’s "Puff Caddy" for The Legend of Bagger Vance). But for the most part, they're innocuous, cutesy add-ons that readers barely take a second glance at--especially in fluffy celeb, fitness or fashion magazines.
So it was with shock that I noticed a rather extreme bit of word play in the newest issue of the generally bland "Women's Health" magazine--something I picked up from a friend's airline reading. A rag that tells us how many calories load up a Wendy's Taco Supremo Salad (ohmigod--900! And we thought Wendy's was healthy), why us gals like high-heeled boots (apparently they make us feel sexy--we never knew!) and what kind of knit fashions to wear on the beach (a spread aptly entitled "Knit Wit"), "Women's Health" isn't exactly known for its racy, racial humor or, in this case, any association with the American Nazi Party.
Nazi Party you ask? Well, here's the thing. In one of those side bar columns called "In Focus: In Calm" where female brain-i-acs ask Dr. Deb Kern P.H.D. how to calm the F down when they're overworked (her advice? "Take a deep breath" and then complain to some co-worker about how stressed you are--thanks Deb) one reader posed this question:
"I have a hard time concentrating. Do I have adult ADD?"
OK. Now, Deb's answer was of little use (something about how you're probably too old to have recently come down with ADD--you stupid idiot) and not the reason I'm writing this. What made me actually take a second look at the sidebar filler was the accompanying header to the question. "Women's Health" emblazoned the query with this eye-grabber: "Concentration Cramp."
Get it? She can't concentrate, she must have a cramp in her brain and well...you know those places the Jews went to? Yeah, that's good! Use it!
I've got no problem with edgy humor, and, if you'll remember, the Concentration Camp joke was used on an episode of South Park when Cartman simultaneously poked fun at Kyle's Jewish-ness and lack of attention: "Maybe you need to go to concentration camp," Cartman not so subtly quipped.
But I don't think that's what "Women's Health" was up to. Unless there's some White Aryan Resistance trickster stalking the office in her Juicy Couture sweatpants singing the praises of George Lincoln Rockwell, I think these broads were just too dumb to notice the Auschwitz "funny." I'm not offended; I'm just a little surprised that no one at this mag noticed something that even, say, Louis Farrakhan would refrain from joking about. Are these ladies really that stupid and didn't get it or are they simply too lazy to look over their copy? I mean, I wrote a review for the film Apt Pupil at a Weekly and my header, "Mein Camp" was almost too much to take. We talked about it. But at least that was referring to Hitler's book and regarding an over-the-top/homoerotic film about a friggin' Nazi, not some silly question about a chick's inability to focus.
So again, I ask "Women’s Health"—What the Fuck? To quote whoever came up with a caption Tom Metzger can now use when his kid's aren't paying attention--"Women's Health" clearly suffered their own "concentration cramp."