Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time To Retire It: Roman Numerals.

Quick, look at the phrase below in orange. Then, just as quickly, look away.


No peeking or cheating, but tell me what Super Bowl that is.

Yes, it’s next year’s Super Bowl 47.

So why can’t we simply call it: Super Bowl 47?

And why do we continue to use Roman Numerals for ANYTHING in the 21st Century?

I think the only thing I’ve ever used Roman Numerals for is to tell when old movies and TV shows were made… as with this Lost in Space episode of 1968 – or MCMLXVIII.

In 2000, it became easy to tell a Star Trek Voyager made in that year, because it was designated as MM. …But why should we have to?

One wonders why did movies and TV adopt this convention in the first place?  Anyone know?  ...But, back to football.

Let’s just say the NEW YORK GIANTS beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 46, 21 – 17.

It’s a heck of a lot easier than saying the NEW YORK GIANTS beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, XXI – XVII.


joecab said...

Now Joe, relax and watch this Roman Holidays DVD until the feeling passes.

But I swear, the moment you say Brutus the lion sounds like Snagglepuss, I'm shutting this thing off!

Joe Torcivia said...

But, heavens to William Murgatroid Shakespeare, he DOES!

Forsooth! Five-sooth, even!

Artful Angie said...

Hi Joe!

Couldn't find you on Facebook, but found your blog. Wanted to invite you to friend me on Facebook, and join our new ORCA group and our Facebook page "Rick Olney Is A..." Loved looking through your blog. Hope you have a great day! Look me up by this name on FB.

Artful Angie

Joe Torcivia said...

Hi back, Angie!

Welcome, and glad you enjoyed the Blog!

Honestly, the reason you haven’t found me on Facebook is that I’ve never joined. Nowhere near enough time to do all the things I’d like to do. Same for Twitter. I figure that, if I have something to say, I can say it here. The small group that gathers ‘round here is more than good enough for me.

Rick Olney, eh? Some things are best left in the past. He was nice to me once… but that was a long time ago. And, I have a “No Controversy” rule for this Blog…

Thanks for visiting, and hope you return.


Anonymous said...

The most common explanations: (1) movie producers thought Roman numerals looked dignified and gave movies a touch of class and (2) producers and distributors wanted to conceal the ages of older movies and TV episodes (on the assumption that audiences only wanted newer shows). Roman numerals take several seconds to decipher; most of us can't translate "MCMXLII" to "1942" in the brief time the image is on the screen. So Roman numerals satisfy a legal requirement to display a copyright date without making the age too obvious. Exit, stage left.

Joe Torcivia said...

That just might be the BEST explanation I could imagine!

Still gotta retire it for the Super Bowl, though!

Anonymous said...

One TV station banned the use of Roman numerals on their teleprompters after the anchorperson, reporting on a Memorial Day ceremony or something, said, "World War Eleven."

Anonymous said...

The credits for the war movie "The Devil's Brigade" (1968) accidentally juxtaposed the "X" and the "L" in the date, so the copyright notice reads "MCMXLVIII" (1948).

Joe Torcivia said...

WOW – and HA! That’s great! …And as good a reason as any to “retire it”!

In this case, might we say the “Devil” was literally in the details! :-)

Does it REMAIN as such, or was it ever retroactively fixed?

Coincidently, that’s why I chose the 1968 illustration from LOST IN SPACE to illustrate my point. Because MCMLXVIII is so difficult to discern at the fleeting glance you get as the credits roll.

Oddly, Irwin Allen’s concurrent episodes of VOYAGE TO THE BOTOM OF THE SEA displayed a copyright date of “1968”. So, it probably wasn’t Allen who mandated this… and, by extension, it probably wasn’t 20th Century Fox, who produced both shows. Maybe CBS vs. ABC? We’ll never know…

Anonymous said...

AFAIK, the copyright date on "The Devil's Brigade" was never corrected. There is also a scene in the colonel's office where a map on the wall shows Germany with its postwar borders (1949-1990), divided into East and West. The movie takes place in 1943. During World War Eleven.

Anonymous said...

The copyright for Lost in Space reads "Space Productions" and the one for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea says "Cambridge." So maybe it's Space vs. Cambridge? I would assume those companies are subdivisions, for tax and/or legal purposes. I don't know if their parent company was 20th Century Fox, or Irwin Allen, though.

Joe Torcivia said...

You know, it could be THAT, too.

All those shows had different financing and backing deals, including support from Groucho Marx and (I believe) Red Skelton!