Going Bananas with Tim’s Cook

19 May, 2016

What’s in a name? Ask a news editor and she’d say that she can reel off a dozen headlines with the right name, say Carpenter, or Taylor, or Cook, for that matter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to India triggered a flurry of playful and punny headlines. Here are some:

# “What’s cooking with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to India?” in The Hindustan Times,

#“Apple CEO Tim Cook has his platter full on day one of India visit” in The Economic Times,

#“Tim Cook’s maiden visit to India: What’s on the menu” in The Economic Times,

#“What’s Cooking? Tim Cook to visit India meet NaMo.” in The Weekly Voice.

What’s wrong with these headlines? Not much, if you ignore the missing comma and the superfluous period in The Weekly Voice headline. Just that given the huge number of possibilities to play with the word “Cook”, most chose to go with “Cooking” and a few on variations of serving ware such as plate and platter, and variations on variety such as menu and platter. It’s just that for a typical news junkie and a nerd, they get boring quickly.

And sometimes – okay, okay, many times – it goes too far, when you want to try and pun with TWO names in the mix: The Wire came up with “Tim Cook of Apple is Here and There’s More on His Plate Than Mac in India”.

The extent to which the play on words was taken was that there is exactly one passing, bracketed, reference to “MacBooks” in the copy. It made one think for a few seconds before the bulb lit up and the realization dawned that the Mac is in reference to “Mac-and-Cheese”, the classic American dish that keeps stomachs filled and bodies obese in America.

If I were in Cook’s shoes, I’d probably groan at the same hoary chestnuts that get pulled when there’s a reference to me in the media. I’d probably go, “Oh, come on, would they do this to a Buffett or Buffay?” And if he knew about our bilingual punning abilities, he might also go “Don’t the Indians have names like like Lamba and Screwvala and Pichai?”

The thing is, dear Tim Cook, our editors have decided that they will create always terrible and seldom unwonted headlines based on your name, showing off their creative and language skills to each other. And fair enough, haven’t we had enough of the perfect ’Ten’dulkar and the dangers of ’Mess’i?

And as a tech, news and word junkie first and a colleague later, I can’t resist biting the hand that feeds me. Our favorite news source, VCCircle, played it up as well as “Hey Tim! What’s Cooking?”. I guess Shakespeare said it best with “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And in this particular case, we’d have found a way to pun on his name whatever his name woulda-coulda been.

I don’t want to be a ‘Nag’araj now and leave you with a quote from someone who was an amazing personality, Frank Zappa (in The Real Frank Zappa Book): “People make a lot of fuss about my kids having such supposedly ‘strange names’, but the fact is that no matter what first names I might have given them, it is the last name that is going to get them in trouble.” [Zappa’s kids were named Moon, Dweezil Zappa, Ahmet and Diva.]

Nagaraj is a tech and gadgets nerd and also a news junkie. Professionally, he used to be a journalist and then, he moved to technology product management, and has now returned to media and consumer internet. He is presently the Chief Product Officer (India) for News Corp and his views here are personal.

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Going Bananas with Tim’s Cook

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