Sticks Nix Hick Pix
STICKS NIX HICK PIX was a headline printed in Variety, a newspaper covering Hollywood and the entertainment industry, on July 17, 1935, over an article about the reaction of rural audiences to movies about rural life. It is one of the most famous headlines ever to appear in an American publication.
Using a form of headlinese that the newspaper called "slanguage", "Sticks Nix Hick Pix" means that people in rural areas ("the sticks") reject ("nix") motion pictures ("pix") about rural life ("hicks"). The conventional wisdom of the movie industry was that themes of upper-class life would not be popular in the countryside; the article asserted that this was incorrect, noting two recent upper-class-oriented films that had done well in rural markets, The Barretts of Wimpole Street and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
According to Robert Landry of the Variety staff, the headline was written by Lyn Bonner; however, Sime's Site (a site for people associated with Variety, named after the paper's founder) credits it to Abel Green.
Because it was the lead headline of the paper, it was printed in all capital letters. Standard style for other Variety headlines was initial capital letters on virtually all words.
Down the years, some of journalism’s most famous headlines have brilliantly suggested what happened and have coaxed the reader to find out more:
- WALL STREET LAYS AN EGG
- FORD TO NEW YORK: DROP DEAD
- HEADLESS TORSO FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR
- HICKS NIX PIX IN STICKS
Mulligan got all four headlines wrong: The 1975 New York Daily News headline was actually "Ford to City: Drop Dead", the April 15, 1983 New York Post headline was "Headless Body in Topless Bar", and the October 30, 1929 Variety headline abbreviated STREET as ST.
He is one of many who have misquoted the "Stix" headline over the years. It is often misquoted with all four words ending in X. That misspelling appeared in the 1942 film Yankee Doodle Dandy, in which George M. Cohan (played by James Cagney) explains the headline's meaning to several young people, who use it as the basis of an impromptu swing song.
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- In 2000 the New York Daily News used the headline "HICKS NIX KNICKS TIX" on page 1 and "HICKS' KNICKS TIX TRICK" on page 5.
- The headline was echoed in a New York Times editorial entitled "Hicks Nix Blix Fix" in 2002 by William Safire about the Bush administration's rejection of UN-backed inspections to ease nuclear tensions with North Korea.
- On March 7, 2013, The New York Times published an editorial piece by Timothy Egan under the headline “Hicks Nix Climate Fix”, noting that many rural farmers reject the idea that climate change is a result of human activity. Suggesting that United States President Barack Obama could gain support among farmers for climate change regulation by including a sympathetic farmer in his cabinet, Egan concludes his article with: “If a farmer led the way to a better era, we might see this headline during the transition, a rewrite of one of the most famous in newspaper history: Hicks Fix Climate Tricks.”
- A 1984 novel by David Burdett was titled Hix Nix Stix Pix.
- In the Futurama episode "That's Lobstertainment!", the Daily Variety headline reads "Fox Exex Bax Sex Pix, Flix Lax Crux Bux, Stox Sinx, Ax Prex".
- In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Thirteensomething" while Plucky reads the newspaper (Varietoon, obviously a parody of Variety) one of the headlines is "Hix Nix Stix Pix".
- In The Simpsons episode "Colonel Homer", the Springfield Variety headline reads "Hix in Stix Love Chix Lix".
- An Animaniacs song about Variety magazine has a line that reads "'Hix Makes Pix but the flick needs fix' means someone made a movie that bombed".
- Sesame Street had a street sketch in the seventh-season opener in which a Muppet news reporter, Headline Howie, displays a bunch of Extra! newspapers with headlines based on the "Stix Nix Hix Pix" headline; "Locals Say Enough Snuff Stuff", "Snuff Stuff Just Fluff", "Snuff Not Puff Says Bird in Huff".
- A season 2 episode of the PBS kids' game show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, entitled "Crook Nicks Kid Pix", involves Top Grunge (one of Carmen's henchmen) stealing a children's museum.
- Jonathan Coe's 1997 novel The House of Sleep features the fictional Variety headline, "Sick pic nixes Brit crit".
- In The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, the Daily Variety headline reads "Nix Pix Shplix Queen" after Frank's incident with Queen Elizabeth II.
- In the musical Sister Act, Monsignor O'Hara quotes a fictional headline, "Crix Pix Crucifix Schticks".
- Yankee Doodle Dandy, the 1942 film about the life of renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer and singer George M. Cohan, starring James Cagney. Cohan is retired to his farm in the country swinging in a hammock in the front yard while reading Variety. Four college students pull up in an old convertible jalopy asking to use his water hose for their radiator. One of the young ladies notices the “STICKS NIX HICK PIX” headline of the newspaper that he is reading, and when she fails to understand it, Cohan explains its meaning.
- Besas, Peter. "Abel Green obituary". Simesite. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- Mullian, Hugh. "Breaking Out from the Herd" (PDF). Allworth Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-13.
- This newsgroup posting cites Google counts taken in late 2005.
- Safire, William (2002-10-24). "Hicks Nix Blix Fix". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
- Egan, Timothy (2013-03-07). "Hicks Nix Climate Fix". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
- "HIX NIX STIX PIX – Kirkus Review". Kirkus Reviews. March 28, 1984. Retrieved April 28, 2017.