Exclamation points have over-run the tabloids like Macaques monkeys swarming the streets of New Delhi – and with much the same effect.
Every story on the cover of the 'Globe' merits its own angry exclamation point: "Hillary Caught Taking Bribes!" "Barack okayed the shady deal!" "Scandal: Her ties to Russia exposed!" "Now they'll both go to jail!" "Priscilla Elopes With Tom!" "Now they're raising Lisa Marie's twins, 8!" "Travolta secret sex swap!"
The 'National Enquirer' is no better: "Prez Trump Tell-All: How I'm Cleaning Up Obama's Mess!" "Making Medicine Cheap Again!" "25 Million New High Paying Jobs!" "$3 Trillion Economic Jump-Start!" "Jackson's Diary Proves He Was Murdered!" "Daughter Paris Is Right!"
So many exclamation points! It's exhausting!
Exclamation marks are intended to emphasize something of major interest, but punctuation inflation has infected the tabloids, so that every story is screaming for attention, and as a result nothing seems shocking any more.
"Judy Garland Was Murdered!" screams the cover to the 'National Examiner.' Yawn. "Tom Selleck Secret Medical Crisis!" Okay – he reportedly has arthritis. Shocking. And the exclamation points keep coming: "Warren Beatty Turns 80! Inside His Amazing Life!" "Judge Judy's $200 million Garage Sale!" "Cruise Ship Murders!"
Virtually every story in this week's 'Enquirer' is cursed with an exclamation point, with only a handful of notable exceptions: the "Ask The Vet" column offering pet advice, the so-dubious-we-don't-believe-it-for-a-minute headline about country singer Blake Shelton: "Blake Back On The Bottle?" and the photo of Caroline Kennedy in a swimsuit under the headline: "Camelot Comes to the Caribbean," for which I assume a sub-editor will be fired for failing to add the obligatory exclamation point.
Otherwise, exclamation points are called upon to add urgency and importance to such dubious news stories as: "Caitlyn's Crushing on Boy George!" "Judge Wapner's Verdict on Judy: Overpaid!" "Hard Workouts Weaken Sex Drive!" and "Keeping A Cool Head!" (a story about the so-called "International Hair Freezing Contest" at Takhini Hot Springs spa.)
The celebrity glossy magazines are hardly immune to punctuation inflation.
"My Dream Baby!" screams the cover of 'People' magazine, reporting on 'Today' show host Hoda Kotb's baby adoption. "Ben & Jen Divorce on Hold!" 'Us' magazine offers us "Ali's Wedding Album!" with the assumption that we all know TV's former 'Bachelorette' Ali Fedotowsky, and are shocked – shocked!! – that she's finally tied the knot.
The celebrity magazines appear to use exclamation points more as decorative touches than to mark an extraordinary story.
"Life's a Beach!" screams the 'People' headline above a photo of 'Dancing With The Stars' alumnus Julianne Hough, who is intriguingly not pictured at a beach or even near a beach, but instead is seen aboard a luxury yacht in Mexico. "Harry And Meghan's Date!" yells a 'People' headline above a blurry long-distance photo of Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle holding hands in Jamaica. "Brie Larson: She's Also a Photographer!" Extraordinary – an actress who can take photos too! Whatever next?
'Us' magazine seems more enamored of the exclamation point, capping all its photo headlines in its "Hot Pics!" section: "Royal Island Romance!" ""J. Lo Shimmers!" "Olsens Under Cover!" "Taking Paws on the Go!" "A Girlfriends' Getaway!" "Good Times, for Shore!" "Love's Afloat for Dev!" "Smooth Political Moves!" "An Emerald Queen B!"
Fortunately, we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Kendall Jenner wore it best, Emily Deschanel loses her keys or phone "multiple times a day," 'The Catch' star Sonya Walger carries lip gloss, anti-perspirant and her son's model toy car in her Mansur Gavriel satchel, and that the stars are just like us: they share snacks, ride bikes, play soccer, and run errands. "Stars: They're Just Like Us!" proclaims the headline. Because nothing could be more extraordinary than seeing a star eating or playing tennis.
The award for the most appropriate use of an exclamation point this week goes to the 'Examiner,' with its headline: "Jet Has A Near Miss – With A UFO!" This supposedly occurred before "hundreds of air show spectators" who saw a jet pass an unidentified object in the sky. A weather balloon? An orbiting satellite? "Nobody knows for sure what exactly the mysterious disk is . . . " reports the 'Examiner,' " . . . but it could be alien-based."
Onwards and downwards . . .