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6 Comments

  • Stan:
    It puts me in mind of that oft-repeated quotation: “I am the captain of my fate/And the helmer of my soul.”

  • Charming article, Stan. To answer your last two questions; I’m very familiar with “helmer” as a movie industry synonym for “director”, so it not longer strikes me as odd (though it did the first time I came across it). You’re quite right to note its frequency in the US trade magazine Variety. As I’m sure you know (but some of your readers may not, so I’ll say it anyway), Variety has used its own private slanguage, in its reports from the frontlines of the movie industry, for over a century. It is an internally consistent version of English that reads like the snappy, jazzy dialogue in a Howard Hawks script. Many of these subtle new words (or new uses of old words) deserve wider use. When a helmer ankles a pic, the verb “ankle” (meaning, to walk away from) usefully blurs the distinction between quitting and being fired.

    There’s a fine guide to Variety’s in-house language over on their website:
    http://www.variety.com/static-pages/slanguage-dictionary/

    Sample entry:

    “nix — reject, say no to; as in the famous Variety headline “Sticks Nix Hick Pix,” meaning that audiences in rural areas were not interested in attending films about rural life.”

    Well worth an article some time, if you haven’t done one already.

  • Thanks for your contribution, Julian. It was in Variety that I first saw helmer = director, and it’s where I tended to see the usage subsequently, but I didn’t know if that’s where the word originated. Andrew Pulver’s Guardian article on Varietyspeak tipped me off about the glossary, but I didn’t read it all yet. Must do so later. “Sticks Nix Hick Pix” is a superb headline!

  • Avy: Ah, so it is. Whether true or not, this is an interesting note: “An inside joke of the Helmer is to use the word Helmer in the username, signature or avatar. It’s a reference to the infamous ‘Helmer mass banning’ that occurred on the My Little Pony forum in 2004.”