Where’s George Orwell When You Need Him?

While I have refrained from talking about politics on here, though haven’t restrained from the occasional life rant, the publication of Sarah Palin’s new book deserves mention – though not because of its political implications. Instead, it’s because of its incredibly poor title. Maybe HarperCollins honestly missed it . And maybe the writer Palin wrote the memoir with was too busy writing the book to pick up on the negative connotations of the title. But didn’t someone along the line of publication, before the title or the jacket image or anything else was made public, look at “Going Rogue” and sense something was amiss?

Granted, maybe my interpretation of a “rogue elephant” is slightly skewed by being mildly literate and having read Orwell’s essay centering around his having to shoot a rogue elephant. I’m sure supporters of the title will point towards the definition of a “rogue elephant” as an elephant that is “independent” and “wanders off alone.” They’ll gloss over the “violent” part and how rogue elephants are best known for grainy home videos of elephants trampling people at circuses, fairs, zoos and foreign market places.

I’m sure they also won’t mention how rogue elephants are largely a danger to themselves and pretty much everything around them – including other elephants – and how their behavior is, at best, merely detrimental to their well being.

I’m sure it will also not be mentioned how the actions of a “rogue elephant” are often seen as senseless and mad – two qualities that, while we may have become somewhat accostomed to in some political figures, are certainly something we usually do not actively support and encourage.

I’m sure the idea of the rogue elephant being a suitable replacement for “maverick” or “loner” or “independent” will be shoved down our throats. And, if need be, they can even fall back on Merriam-Webster’s definition for it as some sort of linguistic basis for it. And, even beyond that, they could rely on the general lack of literate adults in the nation having any concept of “rogue elephant” outside of what they are fed to them. But this still seems like an insanely bad title for a book that is ridiculously open for lampooning.

Which is what shocks me the most about this. If this was my book, I would be more than aware of the various ways a title such as “going rogue” in combination with my party’s mascot of an elephant could be construed. and I would instantly hit on the blatantly negative connotations of it.  The fact that no one, apparently, hit on this issue amazes me. Or the possibility that this issue was touched upon and then discarde, for any number of reasons, saddens me.

the book has already sold its weight in gold. Anyone who has already put it on pre-order won’t give a rat’s behind about how the title could be read. But for less well known authors, a title such as that would be disasterous. She’s preaching the choir so, despite what I’m sure will be a comedic gold mine as the publication nears, it won’t matter and her audience will huff and puff and ignore the blatantly bad title and its various connotations. But for any regular writer, please, think more about what you title your work.


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