Thursday, July 07, 2005

Superstar journalism

Vanity Fair July 2005
Originally uploaded by amsterboy.

I have to write this down now although I am able to publish it probably only when I am back in Amsterdam. I am writing this on the train to Paris on July 2.

I bought Vanity Fair from Amsterdam Centraal for two reasons: an article on Nicole Kidman and one on Deep Throat. Deep Throat is one of the biggest news in U.S. media for a while and Nicole Kidman is just talented and superb. I bought Amanabar’s The Others (starred by Kidman) on DVD last weekend and loved it.

Well, I have always had this idea that Vanity Fair is brilliant in profiling people. To be honest, I was not that familiar with their style of writing. Vanity Fair is one of these magazines that I often mention but not really follow. I was shocked by two things in the Kidman article:the idolising tone and the fact that Ingrid Sischy kept reminding the reader that they are good friends with Kidman.

Maybe a few quotes are necessary:
”In the last few years we’ve gotten to know each other personally and professionally, and this familiarity forced me to think long and hard before I took this assignment. I worried about the conflict between my responsibilities to readers as a journalist and to her as a human being.”
”More and more Kidman talks and behaves like a true artist. (...) But there really is no other apt description of Kidman.”
”And today her offscreen portrait reflects a woman in a kind of epic battle to hold on to her creativity, selfhood, sense of fantasy, and humanity while living as an icon who has captured the public’s imagination.”
”I’ve witnessed of Kidman walking through the fire of collective obsession was last fall when she went to Paris to unveil the commercial she did with (Baz) Luhrmann for Chanel No. 5. I happened to be in town, and we decided to hook up for some Thai food the night before.”

Maybe the article is just an evidence of the difference in American and European narratives.
But really, why should I care that they went for Thai? It does not bring any new information apart from reminding us of their close relationship. To be a bit cruel, she maybe could have given yet another thought before taking the assignment.

During the last years more and more newspapers and magazines have moved to a direction where the role of the journalist grows in the article. In Vanity Fair all the writers were very present in the articles. Nowadays you see more and more often covers like xx (the journalist) on xx (the interviewed person). I am rather critical towards this trend. I would promote it when it states that this is a personal interpretation but more often I feel that the journalists want to be the stars. And to me that is not what the work is about. You see this also in war journalism where at times we are encouraged to get all excited and impressed by the bravery of the journalist. And really, it should be the war we should be shocked about.


Anonymous said...

Yep, i, too, have noticed the thing. Even the "most prominent english-speaking newspaper" here in A'dam is quite similar. You've been reading Amsterdam Weekly? It's almost revolting how the writers do their job. Though i must say the opposite can be as revolting. Meaning the hush-hush-quality of mainstream media: writing the same story all over again. No news, really, no new thing to add, no new perspective. And everything is explained with a word "objective". What a bore.

BTW, nice blog you have here, interesting points. Feel free to visit mine at


Tommi Laitio said...


thank you for visiting my weblog. Your blog seemed interesting as well, covering sort of the same topics, i.e. media and politics.

I do agree on Weekly, they write with this ultimate gonzo tone like there would be no others.

But I do love to read publications that take a stand. That is why I like reading British newspapers like The Guardian or The Independent or my long-time favourite, British essay publication The Prospect. And of course, you can not talk about opinionated journalism without mentioning The Economist.