The Dowdification Of Alexander

Samizdata’s blogger’s glossary credits James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal for inventing the term “Dowdified”:


Used as noun or verb. The willful omission of one or more words so the meaning of the statement is no longer understood but that the statement suits the needs of the writer in launching an ad hominem attack whether or not the construction is truthful or grammatically complete.

Named after Maureen Dowd, based on her manufacture of a quote attributed to President Bush in her May 14, 2003 column (as first reported by Robert Cox on


It looks like Hollywood has picked up on the practice.

In his wrecking ball-like review of Oliver Stone’s Alexander, Brent Bozell notices that Hollywood has been forced to Dowdify critics’ reviews to have something–anything–to put on movie posters and in TV ads:

So what do the critics think? Well, if you read the ad copy in print and TV ads, you’ll think they are thoroughly wowed by this Warner Brothers production. “Critics hail Alexander!” screams the headline on television, followed by “Magnificent!…”Epic”…”Stunning”… and “Best Film of the Year!” scrolling down the screen.

But then you notice something odd. The blurbs are racing so fast across the screen the viewer can’t see from whence they came. And for good reason. Only when you get a tape of the show and hit the “pause” button are you able to finally see the superlatives’ authors: Mostly, a bunch of nobodies attempting to become somebodies by cozying up to Hollywood.

When you see the review quotes in newspaper ads, it’s even worse. They’re flat-out Oliver Stoned. In one ad appearing in the New York Times, we read Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper declare the movie to be “Wild…Glorious…Entertaining.” There’s a reason for those ellipses. It’s not exactly what he wrote. The full sentence: “It’s just a wild, glorious, wacky mess that I found entertaining.”

Newsweek film critic David Ansen raves in the ad that, “‘Alexander’ is filled with spectacular battles, opulent sets and grand passions.” Now read Mr. Ansen’s complete sentence: “Though filled with spectacular battles, opulent sets and grand Hellenic passions, this madly ambitious film doesn’t compute.” Nor was the movie studio about to quote this line from Ansen’s review: “With this sometimes stunning, ultimately stupefying epic Stone has met his Waterloo.” Or this sentence: “By the end of this histrionic historical slog, you are more likely to feel numb, and not at all sure what compelled him to tell this story. It’s a long march with no destination in sight.”


Sure there is: the music store. All that celluloid will make wonderful guitar picks.


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