'40-Year-Old Virgin' Hyphen Affair: The Copyeditors Fight Back!

A frustrated reader gives us the inside copyediting scoop on exactly what went down with the missing hyphen in the 40-Year-Old Virgin key art, which we posted about earlier today:

I'm so glad I'm not alone in my disgust for the improper hyphenation on "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." However, I must set the record straight: it was not home video's "eagle-eyed proofreaders" who caught the problem. I am a proofreader for a company that produces most of Universal's print advertising, and our department begged and pleaded with Universal to correctly punctuate this movie title. First they wanted no hyphens, then they wanted the two (correct) hyphens — and we rejoiced. Then, in a cruel twist, they decided to go with ONE HYPHEN, making the title scarily incorrect. (We're venturing into "40 one-year-old virgins" territory here, the implications of which are distressing.) No style guide could stop Universal from choosing this incorrect punctuation.


It hurts me to see the title correctly hyphenated for the DVD release — why couldn't it have been like that all along? Dear god, why????

Trust us, we feel your pain, as we will never again be able to look at the incorrect copy without it conjuring the image of a giant nursery filled with 40 suggestively dressed one-year-old virgins. Shame on you, Universal; we realize the youth of Hollywood leads an accelerated adolescence, but this is simply taking things too far.