I was in Auchan the other day, and picked up a copy of Vanity Fair

It had Lindsay Lohan on the cover – so you know right away just how dangerously bored I was.

And then I just became dangerously irritated.

Which is sort of unfair, when you think about it. I am not part of the magazine’s target audience anymore. There was a time when I was capable of taking a dude seriously if he compared himself to Loki in an interview. Then the 9th grade ended.

This isn’t to say that there’s bad writing at VF. Let’s face it, as far as American industry standards go, I certainly hope that the nation’s 9th-graders are reading this magazine, as opposed to tabloids discussing things like cellulite (sometimes, I miss the days when cellulite-prevention was an actual issue I had time and energy to discuss). It’s just that so many of VF’s subjects tend to be so freaking despicable. Not war-criminal-style despicable. More like, why-does-anyone-think-I-should-pay-attention-to-your-goddamn-egocentric-rambling-Oh-My-God-I-could-have-been-playing-a-decent-RPG-instead-of-reading-this-unholy-tripe despicable.

I admire journalists who valiantly attempt to salvage a particularly blah interview – but I also see through the tricks. For some reason, many of the articles I browse at VF nowadays have a distinct subtext of “I hate my goddamn work” running through them. It’s not fair to lash out at one’s colleagues about this – there financial crisis sort of ruined things for everyone, working in the media is fraught with peril (comparable to the peril one’s hero faces in aforementioned decent RPGs), and freaking Lindsay Lohan still freaking sells. And you can’t accuse Vanity Fair of anything, really – because it’s all in the title.

Perhaps I got irritated upon reading, because there’s something about 9th grade that I miss. I miss the kind of reader I was back then – and I read everything from VF to Shakespeare to Sandra Cisneros. I was both voracious and sympathetic as far as readers go. I was only dimly aware of post-modernism. I was certainly not aware of Russia’s new drama movement.

More importantly, subject matter discussed in VF felt like it actually related to my life – which was calmer and broader somehow. I was able to take a lot in. The hours passed slowly. Phrases like “the new establishment” filled me with inspiration that went towards my own ambitions.

Goddamit, but I am getting old. 😉

6 thoughts on “I was in Auchan the other day, and picked up a copy of Vanity Fair

  1. The only reason Lindsay Lohan is still being interviewed is because publishers hope she will self-destruct (even further) during the interview and give them a marketable scoop, or say something juicy about someone else in the entertainment biz. For her own part, she went down the tubes far too early to have any experience that’s interesting enough to write about.

    America has a fascination with people who – despite having every advantage – fling themselves over a cliff. It’s not the same as the fascination with cult figures who flame out before you really get to see what they might have been, like Hendrix or Cobain or Dean. In Lohan’s case, we’ve seen everything she’s got, and all that keeps them comin’ around is her destructive craziness.

  2. The changes you’re seeing in the way mass media packages and markets information aren’t an indication of your age, Nat. We have 12 years of difference between our ages, and I noticed the same changes along the same timeline. VF used to be one of the few fashion rags that featured intelligent writing about interesting and (sometimes) intelligent celebrities. They used to feature at least one bona fide newsworthy item every issue.

    Expanding spamocracy is the culprit, plain and simple. Gadget peddlers tell everybody “Be a star, be an original, buy our products!!” and everybody does. And they pump out shite that nobody would have cared about 20 years ago and believe they have talent because people pay them for it. So the entire world’s standard of “good” goes down notch by notch, and like the proverbial slow-boiled frog, the public becomes less and less equipped to differentiate literature from comic books, newsworthy items from fluff, science from marketing jargon.

    It was somewhere between American General Sheehan’s appalling “don’t ask don’t tell” accusations, blaming gay Dutch soldiers for the Serbrenica Massacre, and your post on the Rielle Hunter scandal that I realized that good journalism is breathing its last death rattle.

    Sheehan’s comments compelled me to revisit Peter Maas’ Pulitzer nominated 1995 work, Love Thy Neighbour, which I’d read for an anthro assignment a few years ago. It was still, by far the most moving work I’ve ever studied. And it didn’t win the prize! Compare this to the GARBAGE the National Enquirer got nominated for this year!! Rielle freaking Hunter?!? WHO FREAKING CARES!!! That’s not even news!! What next? Will those fools nominate Justin whatsisface for whatever he’s writing right now? Did they suddenly start choosing Pulitzer nominees by letting all the world’s drooling blogwatchers hit VOTE NOW!?! Bah.

    The rest of us miss the days when there wasn’t so much bullshit distracting us from a compelling, relevant read, too. There’s nothing I despise more than having one of your fascinating posts on Eastern Orthodoxy interrupted by a screaming spam message that says “Talk to hot horny Russian women now!” ICK!!

    You’re one of the few GenY bloggers with a good mix of fluff for the young things balanced with well informed critiques of literature and culture. And oh, those days when you give us real, hard-hitting political commentary. Give us more of that.

    This might make you feel really old (weird? amused?), but I mean it as a compliment. You’re not a culture consumer anymore. You’re a culture maker. Don’t let the crappy writers of the world boil us alive in their stupidity! Pass us that torch 🙂

  3. I saw the title and thought, ‘what’s she doing picking up a copy of a Victorian novel?’ *knocks head on desk*

  4. @Maureen – Well, I just finished reading Byatt’s “The Children’s Book”, so you’re not TOO far off…

    @Mark – I think that’s a good point. For what it’s worth, I think Lohan is a terrific actress. “Mean Girls” is always going to be one of my favourite comedies.

    @Xena – Thanks for a long and thoughtful comment on the issue. I think you’re right wrt bullshit distractions. The Information Age comes with some major downsides.

  5. I loved “Mean Girls”, too, but she was pretty much at her peak there, I think. And the success of Mean Girls didn’t owe so much to a killer performance by Lohan as it did to a can’t-miss theme. Who doesn’t love seeing the kids at the Grade-9 “popular” table get their comeuppance? It was done far better (again, in my opinion) by Fairuza Balk and Robin Tunney in “The Craft”, and neither of them gets anything like the attention Lohan does, because of her tabloid star junkie/lesbian magical mystery tour.

    It’s not so much that you can’t act when you’re stoned, hammered and sexually confused. It’s that you can. When people laugh at her, they’re laughing at the profession writ small.

  6. “The Craft” was great – and it didn’t take itself too seriously – but what I loved about “Mean Girls” was how so much of it was ultimately realistic. Regina George started doing lacrosse and kicking ass – which was what a *lot* of girls like her wind up doing, imho. Karen remained adorably stupid. Gretchen Wieners found another clique. And “Africa” enjoyed floating between different social groups – which was also her goal from the start, but it wasn’t anything extraordinary, when you think about it.

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