The Sunday Times goes all Kardashian: The New York Times never seems to tire of its principal project—the project of dumbing you down.
Consider the offerings readers received in yesterday’s “Sunday Review.”
Frank Bruni is a regular columnist. He devoted the bulk of his piece to the fact that Kim Kardashian is getting divorced—and that she often gets naked.
In keeping with widely-known rules of the guild, he pretended he had an important point. Manifestly, he didn’t:
BRUNI (11/6/11): The Greek tragedy is one of degree, and the Greeks are magnified versions of the rest of us, paying a magnified price. To cast them as villainous outliers may be cathartic, but it isn’t honest or entirely just.Still awake? Bruni’s an expert at ginning up premises which justify his celebrity pimping. What was his “larger point” in this piece? Go ahead! Read it to see!
Honest. Just. Such lofty adjectives all but demand a pivot back to Kardashian. For those of you unfamiliar with her rise to renown, here’s a crash course: naked in a sex video leaked in 2007; naked in a 2007 issue of Playboy; a reality show; another reality show; a friendship with Paris Hilton; a cupcake flavor in her honor named Va-Va-Va-Nilla; clothes for Sears called the Kardashian Kollection; a book titled “Kardashian Konfidential.” She really knows how to work a konsonant.
Beyond that her talents are ambiguous. Like other celebrities famous for being famous, she means nothing and can thus mean everything, an empty vessel accommodating all manner of observations, a malleable moral for many stories.
In the wake of her separation announcement I watched Facebook light up with comments from gay people saying she had provided an inadvertent argument for same-sex marriage, because the institution couldn’t be treated with any more disrespect than she, an avowed heterosexual, had shown it. I got a widely circulated pitch from a publicist hawking a “national expert on the psychology of relationships” who could address the impact of Kardashian’s divorce on “the legions of younger generations that are following this and view Kim as a role model.” Legions? Role model? Oh please.
A branding expert prattled on CNN about the tricky maintenance of a lifestyle brand like Kardashian’s. A professor at the University of Southern California opined in The Wall Street Journal about “how much the marketing universe of the Kardashians has in common with the real art world,” comparing her to the artist Jeff Koons. And star-struck magazines and so-called news shows gasped: was it possible the wedding had been a sham?
Amazingly, Kardashian herself, usually so publicity-shy, spoke up: “I would never marry for a TV show, for money, for anything like that. And I think that’s really ridiculous, that I have to even, you know, kind of defend that, but, you know, I guess that comes along with what’s, you know—when you film your wedding for a reality show.”
Maureen Dowd is another regular columnist. She devoted her piece to the endless hunt for tight, high-end women’s shoes:
DOWD (11/6/11): If you thought the recession had dampened interest in luxury accessories, you didn’t see the women lined up after daybreak at the Warwick Hotel on Thursday. A room there was the scene of one of New York’s most feral anthropological tableaus: the biannual Manolo Blahnik sample sale. Talley has been ringmaster of this sartorial circus for three years running.Dowd’s whole column explored this worthlesss upper-class piffle. Do you think her “research assistant” helped her this time? Or was this column pure Dowd?
Not since Cinderella’s stepsisters mutilated their feet to squeeze into that glass slipper have women leveled such fierce desire at footwear. At last fall’s sale, two women dumped their babies on Manolo employees in the lobby as they sped into the room.
By this time, you’d almost think the Sunday Review had met its stupidity quota! But if you thought that, you don’t understand the low-IQ project this former newspaper has plainly undertaken. The section also offered this dong-tugging “news analysis”—a “news analysis” of Lindsey Lohan’s Playboy sessions! Charles McGrath, an empty-headed lost soul, was dragged in to make it three:
MCGRATH (11/6/11): Why a Fallen Angel Is a CenterfoldMcGrath was identified as “a writer at large for The New York Times.” As you can see, his "news analysis" involved Kardashian too!
The celebrity blogs and the tabloid news sites like TMZ have been all aflutter over reports that Lindsay Lohan, before landing a new jail sentence last week for skipping court-ordered janitorial service at a morgue, managed to find time to pose nude for Playboy magazine for close to a million dollars. Then a couple of dissenting reports said Ms. Lohan had agreed to only partial nudity, which was a distressing comment on the economy these days. What have we come to when a million dollars no longer purchases the complete Montague? Back in the ’50s, when Playboy was just getting started, the going rate for a centerfold shoot was $500.
It now appears that Ms. Lohan, said to be nearly broke, did strip down to her birthday suit, hardly a big deal, since lots of us have already seen most of it before. Last year Ms. Lohan posed topless for German GQ, and in 2008 she appeared draped only in some diaphanous scarves for a New York magazine spread that attempted to recreate Bert Stern’s famous “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe. Just a little fossicking on the Internet — better done at home than at work, by the way — will turn up dozens of additional shots of her in various stages of dishabille. The same is true, of course, for Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears. Getting naked is practically part of the job description. It was a sex tape that started Ms. Kardashian’s celebrity career before she became even more famous for getting married on a TV special and then filing for divorce last week after just 72 days.
According to the dong-tugging writer at large, “the celebrity blogs and the tabloid news sites have been all aflutter over reports” that Lohan took off her clothes. He forgot to mention another news org, the empty-headed successor to a famous newspaper.
Meanwhile, the analysts roared at one part of Bruni’s latest buffoonism. According to Bruni, Kardashian is “like other celebrities famous for being famous.” She “means nothing and can thus mean everything.” She’s “an empty vessel accommodating all manner of observations, a malleable moral for many stories.”
An empty vessel? A celebrity famous for being famous? Whose various actions mean nothing? Reading Bruni, we pictured three other empty heads. Sadly, these other empty heads are employed by his former newspaper.
The column about shoes was a new low even for Maureen Dowd. Frank Bruni is gay so he revels in silliness and gossip.ReplyDelete
As I looked at columnists in the Sunday opinion section yesterday I thought "Can it get any worse than this?" The Bruni bit was unreadable. The Dowd piece - it should have been on page 6 of the Style section. To think I used to look forward to reading the Sunday paper.ReplyDelete
A few tears of pity for the former newspaper: they are trying to attract readers who "grew up" on Camillie Paglia explaining the artistic/historical implications of the supremely vacuous and now largely forgotten Madonna. Or, a trash lit major might snap back, Greil Marcus on Bob Dylan.ReplyDelete
Yet surely it was the stupid, obnoxious and transparently not liberal Paglia who was really the trailblazer here. Writing for Salon where Glenn Greenwald would oddly leave her off his list of supposedly leftist evil doers (along with that hapless creep Christopher Hitchens, who always overwhelmed star struck libs) , Paglia could count on her tripe running unanswered. Darlings, it simply wasn't done.
I've never once thought of Paglia as a liberal. Like Dowd she creates her own bizarre space.ReplyDelete
Bruni's column ... no, I don't think he did have a point. Other than to show off how cleverly he thinks he writes ("our little Kimmykins of Sunnybrook Farm").
When I was young, instead of the Sunday Review, the Sunday Times had the News of the Week in Review. The first two pages were an actual, unbiased review of the week's news. The rest contained intelligent op-eds and intelligent editorials. The decline is sad.ReplyDelete
CBS Sunday Morning did an entire segment on leaf blower noise. There source? Very wealthy neighborhoods in Connecticut and California. What a waste.ReplyDelete
"Bruni is gay so he revels in silliness and gossip."ReplyDelete
Dowd revels in silliness and gossip. Does that mean she's gay?
Alan Snipes revels in ignorance and intolerance.
Trashing entire newspapers is no more useful than trashing "Israel" or fat people. The Times is just reaching out to its hoards of new readers - the presumably desirable side effect of digitalization - deeper and wider democratization. So, you have to scan it for what you consider suitable content? I weep for you.ReplyDelete
Bruni does prattle on, but he can do whatever he wants as far as I'm concerned since, in this column at least, http://nyti.ms/s3TsIu, he reveals a bottomless heart. It challenges me never to write off anybody, even Maureen Dowd, though, godalmighty, that is a tough one.
@Snipes: Hitler was straight, which clearly means that straight people are all genocidal maniacs.ReplyDelete
Why the Times still lets straight people write columns for them after Hitler's, Stalin's, and Mao's crimes against humanity is beyond me.
The New York Times is now the Kim Kardashian of Newspapers...famous for being famous!ReplyDelete
Dowd is one of the worst columnists in the United States.ReplyDelete
"The decline is sad."
CBS Sunday Morning did an entire segment on leaf blower noise. There source? Very wealthy neighborhoods in Connecticut and California. What a waste.
Actually I think leaf blowers are newsworthy, both in terms of noise pollution and environmental hazard. They scare away birds from birds' natural environments; their motors are comparable to jet engines; it's entirely possible they are blowing up and circulating toxins that are in the soil. And they aren't just in wealthy neighborhoods. In my middle class neighborhood our building janitor uses one several times a week.
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