There’s a crisis in New Zealand. The country is set to run out of Marmite. And the headline writers have dubbed it ‘Marmageddon’.
In the spirit of the famous spread, you either love or hate this bit of linguistic dexterity. My feelings towards it match my sentiments towards Marmite on toast. Love it.
I think the reason that it works linguistically is because it is knowingly ludicrous and is almost taking the mickey out of itself. Its in-built sense of irony makes it a success. Of course the disappearance of Marmite off supermarket shelves is not a real apocalypse, especially as it will come back this year once the factory damaged in last year’s earthquake is repaired.
But by being called ‘Marmageddon’, the situation not only becomes easy for headline writing but is also immediately defined as lightweight, an ‘and finally’ story for the end of the news that will make everybody smile.
I don’t expect Marmageddon to last for long or to leap Linsanity-like into official lexical recognition. But wouldn’t it be great if it left a legacy of -ageddon suffixes, to be applied to any suitable words engulfed by a catastrophe. The world’s population of Llamas is becoming extinct – Llamageddon, screams the world’s press. Cotton shortages are affecting popular sleepwear – it’s Pyjamageddon.
But it probably wouldn’t work if there was a worldwide ban on the playing of Bananarama records. After all, that would hardly be a crisis.