Tag Archives: Rants

Life is not, in fact, like a sitcom (or, What I learned from Carolyn Hax)

I’m a little late to this one, but I finally read “Marry Him!” — a buzz-fishing article in last month’s Atlantic that ostensibly makes the case for settling for a spouse instead of holding out for Mr. Right. Here’s the gist:

Of course, we’d be loath to admit it in this day and age, but ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child).

[snip]

My advice is this: Settle!

What stands out from the article isn’t the fact that author Lori Gottlieb herself hasn’t settled (she’s a 40-something who, along with a friend, decided to have a baby with donor sperm “in fits of self-empowerment” — surely the best reason to have a baby). Or her attempt at ironically defusing the shock and vitriol she just knew her taboo-busting article would provoke (“Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about.”) Or her repeated undermining of her case for settling.

No, the most notable aspect of the story is that Gottlieb is dispensing romantic advice even though she seems to be the kind of person who believes that life is like a romantic comedy. Or rather, that romantic comedies are true to life, and that adults should draw their lessons about life and love from TV and the movies.

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David Simon as journalism’s Rip Van Winkle, revisited

So The Wire is over, and there’s no shortage of response around the Web. I’ll post my thoughts shortly about the show overall and how it stacks up to Sopranos/Deadwood, but for now I want to address David Simon’s assessment of the ills of modern journalism.

After the season’s first episode aired, Simon responded to Slate’s TV Club discussion of the show by saying: “The Wire’s depiction of the multitude of problems facing newspapers and high-end journalism will either stand or fall on what happens on screen, not on the back-hallway debate over the past histories, opinions passions or peculiarities of those who create it.” Well, he’s had his on-screen say. And all it did was nearly ruin one of the best shows on TV and prove that David Simon has either no clue or simply nothing interesting to say about the very real, very serious problems facing newspapers in 2008.

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Diablo Cody wins for Lamest Punk Oscar Statement

Few things are more annoying than celebrities-slash-“artists” taking meaningless faux-stands against the celebrity and public relations machines that drive American pop culture. My all-time favorite example is Kurt Cobain wearing a “Corporate magazines still suck” T-shirt on the cover of Rolling Stone. Because, you know, that’s so much more punk than simply turning down requests for an interview and not appearing on the cover of the country’s biggest music magazine. He took a stand, maaaan.

Anyway, Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody joined these esteemed ranks when she totally refused to wear designer Stuart Weitzman’s diamond-studded shoes on the Oscars red carpet Sunday. See, she found out they cost like a million dollars — and there are people starving in Haiti, maaaan. I totally believe her when she writes things like this on her MySpace blog:

I must have somehow missed the part where my shoes cost a MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS and my “choice” of footwear would be publicized nationwide. I honestly thought they were just sparkly shoes. Mr. Weitzman did mention that the diamonds were real when I tried them on, but I’m not Nancy Rockman, Expert Gemologist. I didn’t, you know, bust out my miniature spyglass and assess the potential worth of my kicks.

She just thought that they were sparkly shoes, people! How could she possibly have known that Weitzman makes a special pair of shoes for one rising star every year?! Doesn’t every actress wear zirconia-encrusted shoes on the red carpet? It’s not like Weitzman told her how expensive the shoes were, right? Oh, he did? Okay, well at least she wouldn’t participate in any other over-extravagant red carpet traditions, right? Uh — wearing a Dior dress doesn’t count, does it? Surely those sparkly things at the neckline were just zirconia! And anyway, why would she have agreed to wear the shoes when she’s doing everything possible to stay out of the public eye? According to her blog,

I would never consent to a lame publicity stunt at a time when I already want to hide.

Really, folks, just leave her alone! She doesn’t want to talk anymore about how she was just a li’l stripper-turned-blogger-turned-screenwriter before Juno, or about her book, or her Entertainment Weekly column. She’s way too real and punk for any of that kind of self-promotion.

Just leave her alone and let her wear her Dior and act like she’s Avril Lavigne’s punker/realer big sister in peace. And then read her blog about it.

Enough with the Super Bowl ads

Maybe it’s because I always have to work on Super Bowl night so don’t seen many of the ads, but I really wish we could do something to suffocate the manufactured hype about the commercials.

It’s not the ridiculous cost that bugs me, or the fact that Saatchi, Saatchi, and the Other Advertising Bigshots Whose Names Nobody Knows try so hard to make such an impression. It’s not even that newspeople recycle the same stories every year (Hey, look how much the ads cost this year! And hey, remember that 1984 Mac ad? And hey hey — the ads just ain’t what they used to be. Etc.), or that they’re giving loads of free advertising to a bunch of advertisements.

What’s really frustrating is this whole tradition/charade continues as though ads mean anything anymore. Not that ads can’t boost sales and drive traffic and eyeballs to desired places (not like that, you dirty devil). But in terms of cultural impact, commercials haven’t been more than a blip for a long time.

What’s the last ad campaign that became a cultural touchstone, inspired a widely used catch phrase, or that had any kind of cultural effect beyond a bunch of one-off chuckles? The Budweiser “Wassup” campaign comes to mind (I still semi-ironically try to revive that one). Ipod and iTunes ads, maybe, but that kind of impact is hardly what people are talking about when they imagine the “water-cooler” possibilities of Super Bowl ads (and please note the quote marks; I hate the “water-cooler” cliche even more than I hate Super Bowl ad hype).

I’m not anti-adverts. If it were up to me, American schoolkids would have to say “Set it — and forget it!” at the end of the morning Pledge of Allegiance. I like to add a whispered “From Calvin Klein” to half of my spoken sentences. But the idea that this would actually happen — that advertising is still so powerful in the Ironic Age that once a year it can shape the culture by multiple-$2.7 million fiat (fiats?) — doesn’t hold up.

UPDATE: Dan Hopper makes a similar point at Best Week Ever. My favorite part (though mostly unrelated to his main point):

This isn’t to say that this year’s ads weren’t garbage. Those parodies of “The Godfather” and “Rocky” were pretty topical, weren’t they? Why don’t we spoof “Duck Soup” while we’re at it? What about “The Great Train Robbery”? Or some of Thomas Edison’s wax cylinder recordings? And why stop at references to “Dick in a Box” and “Night At The Roxbury” when we could have the Church Lady hocking Dr. Pepper or Chevy Chase’s Gerald Ford impression talking about Careerbuilder.com? Tons of untapped potential here, execs.