It is time to kill the celebrity profile, to drive a stake through the whole genre. Or at least to authorize the public flogging of these self-indulgent celebrity profilers who tell us all about themselves and their anxieties and what fun they had eating arugula or getting a massage with the star before they degenerate into fatuous psychobabble.
December's Esquire has a case study of the first-person star profile, Martha Sherrill's sycophantic six-page summary of her lunch and photo shoot with Jim Carrey -- and the trouble she had writing it:
"I began to feel the anxiety welling up in me. How was I supposed to explain this man, who, at thirty-three, had become the only thing happening in Hollywood, comedywise?"
Ms. Sherrill then describes lunch with Mr. Carrey, who, to her great astonishment, does not make faces and flatulence jokes the way he does on screen, but is a perfectly polite lunch partner who tells sad stories about his dead parents.
That's five pages.
The last page is the photo shoot, a nauseating tour de force. We get to see what a nice guy Mr. Carrey is because he actually does make funny faces for Jason, a boy with leukemia who was brought there to meet him by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
An unusual coincidence? Not exactly. "I like having the &r; Make-A-Wish kids at photo shoots," Mr. Carrey says.
And in case there was any confusion: "In the past, I have interviewed movie stars -- Jean-Claude Van Damme comes to mind -- who brought along Make-A-Wish kids, and I have purposely not written about them. . . . But it was different this time."
This unbelievably cynical episode provokes some unbelievably bad writing about Mr. Carrey's pain, Jason's pain and Ms. Sherrill's pain, until she concludes her puffery: "And maybe, just for a moment, the $20 million man seemed a little underpaid."
It would be a shame to let November pass without noting the one-year anniversary of Schwing -- er, Swing -- the much-hyped Generation X mag launched by Ralph Lauren's son, David. It is still publishing. It still has lots of fashion ads rounded up by the elder Mr. Lauren. It still stinks.
This month, Swing weighs in on an allegedly drug-addled generation: "The reality is that for young professionals, illegal drugs are the norm." This ludicrous pap has no basis in reality, but Swing will survive, not because of quality but because of David Lauren. What makes that guy tick? Maybe somebody ought to send Martha Sherrill to find out.