Sticks Nix Hick Pix

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"Sticks Nix Hick Pix" is a famous[1] 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. Variety was known for its playful use of Broadway and Hollywood jargon to pack as much meaning as possible into a small headline or article; examples include "H'wood" and "biz".[2]

Using a form of headlinese that the newspaper called "slanguage",[3] "Sticks Nix Hick Pix" means that people in rural areas ("the sticks") reject ("nix") motion pictures ("pix") about rural people ("hicks").[4][5] The accompanying article is based on an interview with Joe Kinsky, who operated theaters in the mostly rural Tri-State circuit of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Kinsky claims that "Farmers are not interested in farming pictures", and that conversely two recent pictures set in an upper-class mileu, The Barretts of Wimpole Street and The Scarlet Pimpernel, had been big successes with his demographic.[6]

According to Spanish writer and journalist Peter Besas (author of the 2000 book Inside "Variety": The Story of the Bible of Show Business, 1905-1987),[7] the headline was written by Variety editor-in-chief Abel Green.[8]

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 almost all words.

Mentions and similar headlines[edit]

"STICKS NIX HICK PIX" is a frequently-cited headline.[9][10] It's used as an example of space constraint-driven "headlinese" in Garner's Modern American Usage.[11]

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 [sic]

— Hugh Mulligan[12]

Similar headlines have appeared in publications such as the Chicago Tribune ("HIX PIX CLIX", 1988),[13] the New York Times ("Hicks Nix Blix Fix", 2002; "Hicks Nix Climate Fix", 2013),[14][15] and the New York Daily News ("HICKS NIX KNICKS TIX", 2000).[16]

As well, references and variations have appeared in various media over the following decades. David Burdett titled his 1984 novel Hix Nix Stix Pix[17]. The 1942 movie Yankee Doodle Dandy features a scene where George M. Cohan (played by James Cagney) explains the headline to some students, leading to an impromptu dance.[18]

Parodies[edit]

The Simpsons episode "Colonel Homer" shows "Hix in Stix Love Chix Lix" as a headline on the Springfield Variety,[19] while the Futurama episode "That's Lobstertainment!" shows a Daily Variety headline "Fox Exex Bax Sex Pix, Flix Lax Crux Bux, Stox Sinx, Ax Prex".[20] Other references have included Animaniacs ("Hix Makes Pix but the Flick Needs Fix" in the song "Variety Speak";[21] "Nix Pix Shplix Queen" in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! as a Variety headline after Frank's incident with Queen Elizabeth II;[22] "Crix Pix Crucifix Schticks" quoted by Monsignor O'Hara in the musical musical Sister Act;[23] "Sick Pic Nixes Brit Crit" as a fictional Variety headline in Jonathan Coe's 1997 novel The House of Sleep.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Variety headline: "STICKS NIX HICK PIX"". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 14, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Henderson, Mary C. (1989). Broadway ballyhoo: the American theater seen in posters, photographs, magazines, caricatures, and programs. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 117. ISBN 978-0810918894. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Slanguage Dictionary". Variety. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  4. ^ McIntyre, By John E. "Flick "nix" across the Styx". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
  5. ^ Kyff, Rob (April 26, 2002). "Names and Slurs for Rural Americans". The Hartford Courant.
  6. ^ "Sticks nix hick pix". Variety. July 17, 1935. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  7. ^ Fisher, James; Londré, Felicia Hardison (2007). Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Modernism. Scarecrow Press. p. 753. ISBN 9780810864184. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Besas, Peter. "Abel Green obituary". Simesite. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  9. ^ Harris, Harry (1990). Good Old-Fashioned Yankee Ingenuity: Unsung Triumphs of American Invention. Stein & Day. p. 320. ISBN 978-0812831429. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  10. ^ Weiner, Richard (2006). The Skinny about Best Boys, Dollies, Green Rooms, Leads, and Other Media Lingo: The Language of the Media. Random House Reference. ISBN 9780375721472. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  11. ^ Garner, Bryan (2009). Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 414. ISBN 9780199874620. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  12. ^ Mulligan, Hugh. "Breaking Out from the Herd" (PDF). Allworth Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-13.
  13. ^ Carrie Rickey (June 19, 1988). "HIX PIX CLIX". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  14. ^ Safire, William (2002-10-24). "Hicks Nix Blix Fix". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  15. ^ Egan, Timothy (2013-03-07). "Hicks Nix Climate Fix". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  16. ^ "HICKS NIX KNICKS TIX". New York Daily News. May 31, 2000. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  17. ^ "HIX NIX STIX PIX – Kirkus Review". Kirkus Reviews. March 28, 1984. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  18. ^ James Cagney (1942). Yankee Doodle Dandy (film). United States: Warner Bros. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  19. ^ "Making the Headlines". Simpson Crazy. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  20. ^ "3ACV08 - That's Lobstertainment!". Can't Get Enough Futurama. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  21. ^ "Variety Speak". Letras. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  22. ^ "Naked Gin Files of Police Squad Leslie Nielsen & "Queen Elizabeth Prop Magazine". WorthPoint. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  23. ^ Steven Suskin (April 20, 2011). "Sister Act". Variety. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  24. ^ Coe, Jonathan (1997). The House of Sleep. Viking. p. 215. ISBN 978-0670864584. Retrieved April 25, 2020.

External links[edit]