Did Goldie Hawn want her career ‘launched’ or ‘jettisoned’?

Many newspapers and web sites could use a good copy editor. Today’s hilarious example of a wildly misused word sends a young Goldie Hawn where no up-and-coming star ever wants to go.

Goldie Hawn in 1970 PR photo. (Via Wikipedia entry on Goldie Hawn, uncopyrighted photo)

WASHINGTON, August 28, 2016 – If you’re over 40, say, and if you regularly read articles in print or online, you might have noticed how correct grammar and proper word usage have declined in recent years.

Surfing the web this morning looking for examples, we chanced upon an article posted at Sportingz, a website primarily devoted almost to athletes and athletics.

A decidedly unsporting article, entitled “29 Famous Women of the 70s – Where Are They Now?” was posted to the site on August 14 by an individual identified as Bex Walton. Perhaps Sportingz was looking for click bait, just like the shameless editorial crew at Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller.

In this case, taking advantage of a popular web format requiring little in the way of actual writing, Bex Walton’s feature is a series of before-and-after photos posted with economical captions briefly stating what made these featured young women famous in the 1970s and what they look like and where you can find them today.

Walton is okay with this format, but stumbles when she gets to one-time “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” star Goldie Hawn. Citing Goldie’s transition from TV ingénue to big-name movie star, Walton captions a photo of the young Ms. Hawn as follows:

“Aged 24, Goldie Hawn won her first Oscar at the start of the seventies for the film Cactus Flower. This jettisoned her career skywards, and she’s been a household name ever since, starring in many other films.” [Our italics.]

It’s the second sentence of this entry that’s awesomely yet unintentionally funny. Walton’s abuse of the word “jettisoned” is a classic example of a badly misused and misunderstood word. If you “jettison” something, that means you’ve gotten rid of it or tossed it overboard. In this context, that’s clearly not what Walton meant to say.

More likely, Walter intended to say “Cactus Flower” was the movie that “launched” or “propelled” Goldie’s career skywards. After all, most brilliant careers don’t blast off into the dumpster.

Now that print and web copy editors seem to have gone extinct, sidesplitting examples of word misuse and grammar abuse are on the increase. As we come across them, we’ll share them in future columns. And of course, we’ll try to avoid making egregious (and funny) errors of our own.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17