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May 30, 2010


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Stephen Bowie

Not that I really come here for the beating-up-on of other writers, deserving though they usually are, but ... oh, man, okay, I'll bite: that Lynn Hirschberg NYT profile of Megan Fox (which opens with the sentence: "Megan Fox is a fox.") has the least favorable ratio of words vs. amount of things to say of anything I've ever read, I think. At least Hirschberg is carving out a niche in her subject matter: women who are undeniably hot but still manage to be completely uninteresting, even to a shallow sleaze like myself.

Fulton Oursler

Dear Glenn:

Romain Gary is sad to say, dead. He won the Prix Goncourt twice, one time under a pseudonym. Perhaps he is directing the MIA video under the name of Costa Gavras Fils...?

Glenn Kenny

@ Fulton Oursler: Alas, poor Romain. Sorry about the mishap, a classic mnemonic brain-fart typo. The director is in fact Romain Gavras and apparently not even a tenth of the filmmaker his father is even at his least inspired. Oy.

@ Stephen Bowie: It's funny, I didn't even think of this as a "beating-up-on of other writers" piece when I was composing it; I thought I was doing an "a certain tendency" mini-essay. Perhaps this lack of awareness is part of the problem. Hmmm.

Stephen Bowie

While we're at, this is pretty hilarious:


Every writer has these tics (once I sent around an e-mail linking to TWELVE different pieces in which Jonathan Gold used the word "sluice" as a verb) but the fries, I think, are a legitimate symptom of a certain failure of imagination.

Hauser Tann

On that note (and only looking at occurrences on this blog...): http://tinyurl.com/2fpn8rk

Glenn Kenny

Hey, what can I tell ya? Just as Merv Griffin "love[d] to kill" in "The Man With Two Brains," I love the word "putative." For whatever reason, it works for me a lot better than "ostensible." It isn't my fault that it's so apropos—blame modern culture and its ineffectual simulacrums for the Real! Or is the suggestion here that I'm not aware of the fact that I use it maybe too much? Because, you know, I am aware. Painfully. Last time I looked it wasn't costing Hauser Tann anything, so I don't know exactly what he wants.

On a note related to Mr. Bowie's link, Richard Linklater once complained, rather insistently, to my then-boss Peter Herbst about a profile of him by Anne Thompson in which Linklater was portrayed eating a burger and, I think fries. Linklater's objection was two-fold: that he was a vegetarian, and that he thus wouldn't be caught in any condition eating a burger; and that, as the director of "Fast Food Nation," which he was showing at Cannes (where the confrontation took place), he wouldn't be caught in any condition eating a burger. His complaint may well have been legitimate, but he was really unpleasant to Peter, way out of proportion (I thought) to what the occasion warranted, especially as Peter would have made every good faith effort to try to rectify the error if it indeed turned out to have been one. My and My Lovely Wife's way of "getting back" at Linklater has been to deny the DVDs of his films space on our home's "Auteurs" shelves, despite the fact that he pretty completely fits the definition of an auteur. And that'll teach him.

Hauser Tann

Woops: I thought I had come up with a search query that would also catch the adverbial form, but apparently I suck at teh Google. Fuller picture: http://tinyurl.com/252cd2k


While I enjoyed Glenn being snarky, I have to admit the only thing I have of substance to talk about is this point:

"that the model for the character of Bettie in Dave Stevens' terrific The Rocketeer comic book and its subsequent not-so-terrific movie adaptations"

Admittedly, I never read the comic book, but I happened to like the movie version of THE ROCKETEER. Sure, it's a lightweight version of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but it's quite enjoyable, and I especially liked Connelly (then again, I usually do).

Stephen Bowie

Another good reason to deny Linklater space on one's auteur shelves is that too many of his films suck.

I read on one of the LA Times' gossip blogs that M.I.A. also hated the Lynn Hirschberg piece, although probably not for the same reasons that Glenn hated it.

Tom Russell

M.I.A. hated the piece so much that she gave out Hirschberg's cell phone number to her fans via twitter. What a dick.

Glenn Kenny

Wow. I wonder if she can be deported for that. Putatively.

Tom Russell

The "public-sharing-of-phone-number-by-a-person-of-influence/celebrity" thing seems to be increasingly common these days-- something you can blame on the twitter. I believe Kristie Alley did the same thing-- IIRC, it was in retaliation to some kind of tabloid news story about her health. And there are a few others that I can't recall at the moment.

Say, does anyone know-- did anyone cause any kind of ruckus when Siskel gave out Betsy Palmer's mailing address on television and told people to send her hate mail for doing Friday the 13th?

Stephen Bowie

Yeah, remind me not to give out my cel number to any sources who understand teh twitter.

"Hey, Lynn, wanna meet up for a plate of fries? Hello? Hello...?"

John M

Honestly, Lynn Hirschberg's writing makes her (Hirschberg) sound like a snotty jerk whose cutting-edge trick is to sub in mockery for illumination. MIA giving her number out to a bunch of freaks on Twitter seems like a fair trade-off for the truffle fries line alone.

(If MIA's bugged excerpt of the interview is to be believed, Hirschberg's subjects all chomp on fries because Hirschberg orders the fries. She just really digs fries--I think she should push it, order corny dogs or sloppy joes. A more compromising type of snackfood.)

Stephen Bowie

Was it really "bugged"? Because I've had more than a few interview subjects either openly make their own recordings or insist on a copy of mine as a condition of doing the interview, and one can hardly refuse, as long as approval of the content of the piece is not implicit.

Anyway, Robert Sietsema has the last word on the fries:



Look, I read the article. i've heard of this chick but have not heard he music and have no desire to. She comes off as incredibly bright ad naive at the same time. But, in the end, her success and money have overshadowed her artistic cred. Money can do that. Tough to keep it real when you're living the life in Brentwood.


Not the last word, Stephen. I went to the article, and someone in the comments section found the BH Hotel menu: actual black truffles on those fries, not just truffle oil. I would think that truffle salt would be a better choice than oil, anyway. Would Jonathan Gold have written the above while incorporating the word "sluice"?


I also think it's worth pointing out that Dave Stevens was not only a fan of Page's, but befriended her late in her life, helped her with her finances, and became a point person for helping to arrange for her to be financially compensated for use of her image. Which makes him less a "drooler" (which I know Glenn was using as a description of others' perceptions, not his own) than a real mensch.

I also think the movie's fun, if only to see a fun Timothy Dalton performance, and several actors (Billy Campbell, Terry O'Quinn, and the aforementioned Connelly) before they became more famous.

Dan Coyle

Stevens was also a good friend of Thomas Jane, who wrote the intro to the recent Definitive collection of the Rocketeer and is trying to get a new film project going in Stevens' memory.

Every time I read Hirschberg at length I get a horrible nosebleed, start weeping, and usually black out and wake up naked 50 miles from my home covered in pig's blood.


So what if Hirschberg eats a lot of french fries with her interview subjects? The damning part of that excerpt isn't the fries, but rather "I kind of want to be an outsider." That's the part that makes MIA sound like a jack-ass. Reading the french fries bit just made me want to eat some truffle-flavored french fries.

Jeff McMahon

I'm just glad that I'm not the only one to see through MIA's posturing. Good musician, obnoxious person.

John M

"'I kind of want to be an outsider,' she said, eating a truffle-flavored french fry."

The whole sentence is a set-up rooted in some vague notion of authenticity. Ha ha! You've eaten the truffle-flavored fries I ordered, while saying you're an outsider! I caught you! No outsider would eat something flavored with truffles, and so I shall juxtapose these things in a sentence that will surely be quoted in the blogosphere! It's childish and classist. (And unoriginal...how many writers could poop out a profile like this?)

And judging by the reactions to this story, and to her in general, MIA still does register like an outsider. She married rich and has a house in Brentwood, but her concerns, her taste, her politics, and her music are certainly still outside the mainstream. One can be rich and an outsider. Ask undead Howard Hughes. (All this, and yeah, I agree that MIA often sounds like an undereducated jackass...walking contradiction.)

I guess, most importantly, for which am I more appreciative? MIA's music or Lynn Hirschberg's celebrity profiles? I'll take the music.

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP would be a good companion film to this discussion.


oh man, i couldn't agree more. i just don't see how a "blockbuster" mega video that was prob shot on film, took several weeks to make and had the budget of a short feature film comes anywhere close to being subversive in it's mode of production...among other things...


But, John M, if you're an outsider, you're an outsider -- you don't "kind of want" to be one. That seems to me to imply a certain level of premeditation, with one eye on "street cred", doesn't it?

Although, I'll tell you what really does make her seem like an outsider: she thinks that Facebook is a tool of the CIA. Also, Google.


John M

I guess I'm just looking at this all with a giant heap of relativism, and with the constant modifier that, yes, I agree, she does sound like a spunky 15-year-old. After the truffle fry, she continues, “I don’t want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.”

First off, anyone accusing MIA of being a terrorist--and I'm sure someone out there is--is being every bit the straw-man-waffling goofball that she is. Her existence relies on taking that bait.

The fact that she feels completely comfortable coughing up so much bizarre, muddled political bon mots--like the Facebook thing (which is, by the way, kind of a hip-hop filtering of how actually evil and big-brothery Facebook sometimes is/seems)--makes her even more unusual in the pop world, which is the world she chose. A cultivated outsider is as close as the pop world will get to a real outsider. The bullshit is the message.

Ultimately? I wish the Times had put someone better on this beat. (Or just given the profile over to the New Yorker or Atlantic.)


You left out the best thing about the never-not-odious Virginia Heffernan piece. Virginia talking about her friend. Virginia's musings are always, first and foremost, about her precious clique. http://firetomfriedman.blogspot.com/2010/05/virginia-heffernan-falls-off-wagon.html


The whole "Facebook=CIA" thing circulated around the net a couple of years ago (so she didn't make it up). Apparently, the real-life basis of it was that one of the corporations that invested in Facebook had on its board people who had been linked to the CIA, or something like that.

Me? I think it would explain *a lot*.


Just because she didn't make it up doesn't mean she's not an idiot for believing it.

Glenn Kenny

And there's also the fact that Google and Facebook are, when you come right down to it, toys for relatively comfortable people. Put another way, they're bourgeois. To imply that they're tools of oppression controlled by the ruling hegemony is to display a rather sick-making ignorance of what actual oppression is. It's also an ideological inversion of the same self-flattery that argues "'Sex and the City' is the reason the Taliban exists."

Talk about a broad who needs to read some Zizek...


@John M -

"First off, anyone accusing MIA of being a terrorist--and I'm sure someone out there is--is being every bit the straw-man-waffling goofball that she is."

Come on, man. You can't say that somebody is probably doing something, and then say that IF THEY ARE...etc. That's just setting up your own straw-something-or-other.

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