The Transience of Hip
July 29, 2009
One of my many faults (or at least one of the things I feel guilty about) is not getting around to reading things. I spend much of my days reading and writing, and when I get some free time usually the last thing I get to is pleasure reading. Which explains why, as I sorted through the 18-inch stack of "to read" magazines next to the microwave in my kitchen, I found an old issue of Entertainment Weekly , from July 2005.
It had the stars of Superman Returns on the cover, and the special double issue cover headline was, "The Must List: 122 People and Things We Love This Summer. " As I flipped through the now-four-year-old magazine, I was fascinated and bemused to see all they much-hyped items on the "Must List." (I gather that means that EW readers "must" experience them in order to have a fulfulling life, or at least a satisfying pop culture experience.) I've never felt the slightest pressure to do, see, or listen to anything that some pompous magazine proclaims is "must see TV" or "must listen music." (Nor, for that matter, do I like those stupid books with titles like, "101 Places You Must See Before You Die." F%&K off, you don't know me, don't tell me what I should do before I die-- and besides that, I've probably already been there. But I digress.)
Back to Entertainment Weekly Summer Double Issue 05. It starts out with a piece by Stephen King complaining about the media circus around Michael Jackson-- his second trial for child molestation. Then on to the things you simply MUST see and love: Superman Returns ; Felicity Huffman; the cast of Serenity ; some TV chef named Brad Cooper; filmmaker Ziyi Zhang; Alan Alda; Jessica Walter; Melissa Etheridge; Jill Swid; Jodie Foster; Mos Def; "up-and-comers" Rachel Bilson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Lou Taylor Pucci; and so on. For every name I mentioned, there were ten I didn't, most of them even less known.
I mean no disrespect to the talented (and untalented) performers listed above-- the entertainment biz is brutal, capricious, and unfair. But it's interesting how this year's MUST or IT list is last year's slate of has-beens, coulda-beens, also-rans, and legit stars with aborted comebacks. The cover story is a perfect example: EW did their best to plug the hell out of Superman Returns --- which, though hardly a cinematic abomination, hardly showed up on anyone's "must see" list. While hopefully most people take these self-important magazines (I've been a subscriber to EW since the very first issue) with a grain of salt, to me it's a good lesson in perspective and skepticism. "Don't believe the hype!"
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