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TODD SMITH — ‘Complicit’ is Word of the Year from dictionary.com


Dictionary.com has selected “complicit” as its word of the year for 2017, citing the term’s renewed relevance in U.S. culture and politics – and noting that a refusal to be complicit has also been “a grounding force of 2017.”

The website defines “complicit” as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.”

Interest in the word spiked several times this year, Dictionary.com says – most notably when Ivanka Trump said in April, “I don’t know what it means to be complicit.”

That remark came weeks after Saturday Night Live aired a segment in which Scarlett Johansson portrayed President Trump’s daughter in a skit to tout a luxury fragrance called Complicit. Its tagline: “The fragrance for the woman who could stop all this, but won’t.”

The term spiked a third time, Dictionary.com says, after Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced in October that he won’t seek re-election to Congress, citing a “flagrant disregard for truth or decency” in the Trump administration.

While those headline-grabbing mentions helped drive interest in and use of the term in the political arena, Dictionary.com says complicity also lurked behind many of the biggest stories of 2017. As examples, it listed humanity’s role in contributing to climate change, the normalizing of hate speech and supremacist groups, and the tacit enabling of sexual harassment.

Referring to the spate of allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and a number of other high-profile men, Dictionary.com says, “These powerful men could not have harmed so many people for so many years without the complicity of their associates and the established practice of ‘turning a blind eye’ to misconduct.”

The choice for the word of 2017 made The Spin Cycle curious to see how much more prevalent the word has become in NPR’s coverage. A Google search for “complicit” on NPR.org returned 142 results from Jan. 1 through Nov. 27, 2017, compared with 75 results for the same period in 2016. A search of audio archives found the word in 51 NPR transcripts, compared with 33 results during the same time period in 2016.

Choosing a word of the year is always an attempt to capture the zeitgeist. In the case of complicity in 2017, the site says, “It’s a word that reminds us that even inaction is a type of action. The silent acceptance of wrongdoing is how we’ve gotten to this point.”

But the site also highlighted instances of action, and refusals to accept reprehensible or questionable conditions. It cited Sen. Flake’s stand as an example of that trend; it also noted the international Women’s March that took place in January, and the use of the hashtag #metoo to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment.

In 2016, Dictionary.com’s word of the year was xenophobia, citing a surge in interest from users both in the U.S. and around the world.

Record-breaking Cyber Monday sales total $6.59 billion

More than 174 million U.S. consumers shopped in stores and online between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation, with more than 81 million people shopping on Cyber Monday alone.

Online sales hit a record-breaking $6.59 billion on Nov. 27, up 16.8 percent from the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics. Black Friday also broke records, with $5.03 billion in online sales. Adobe predicts this will be the first-ever holiday season to break $100 billion in online sales.

But it’s not only where people are shopping that is changing – it’s also how people are shopping. Mobile set a new record on Cyber Monday: 47.4 percent of shopping happened from either a smartphone or a tablet. That means Americans spent more than $2 billion right from the palms of their hands.

“Cyber Monday broke records as consumers picked up their phones and tablets and went looking for the bargains they have come to expect on this day,” Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, told ABC News. “Better retail experiences, especially on mobile, likely made the shopping experience that much faster for consumers this year.”

She added, “This year, mobile shopping was dominant both in the morning and afternoon, and desktop only staged a comeback in the evening when people were home.”

Top selling items on Cyber Monday include gaming devices like the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4/4 Pro; toys like Hatchimals & Colleggtibles figurines and PJ Masks; and streaming devices like Google Chromecast and Roku.

So who spent the most? From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday the biggest spenders were millennials, according to the NRF. And consumers were in the mood for deals: sales drove 60 percent of purchases, NRF said.

Goooollllyy Mic: Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) Kept Us Laughing 

Well, Goooollllyyy! The world just got a little less funny with the death of Jim Nabors, who created one of TV’s greatest comedic characters, Gomer Pyle.

The legendary entertainer, who underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after contracting hepatitis B, died peacefully at his home after his health had declined for the past year.

The Alabama native had a long career that featured TV and movie roles, more than two-dozen albums and numerous concert appearances, including long-running shows in Las Vegas and Hawaii, which became his home on a macadamia ranch in the 1970s.

Nabors was best known for his role as the goofy, gentle Marine in the title role of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a CBS comedy that was a top-five hit in the 1960s. Gomer’s dust-ups with his hard-nosed superior, Sgt. Carter (Frank Sutton), were the heart of the show, and the character’s trademark exclamations — “Well, Golllll-ly!” and “Shazam!”— became legend to legions of his fans.

Nabors moved to Los Angeles at a young age, taking a job as a film cutter at NBC. In his spare time, he acted and sang at a Santa Monica cabaret theater, The Horn. That’s where Andy Griffith discovered him and later offered him the chance to audition for the role of Pyle, the innocent gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show. The character’s popularity led to the later spinoff.

After Pyle ended, Nabors hosted his own variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour, which ran for two years. He also was a guest on other variety hours, including The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show.

Nabors also made waves in the music world. His welcoming baritone echoed across the airwaves on Andy Griffith, and he recorded nearly 30 albums, had five gold records and one platinum record.

Goodbye, my childhood TV friend. I know the angels are chuckling and the Pearly Gates are rattlin’.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» TODD SMITH  is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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