The Bitch and the Famous: In Our Supposed Post-Celebrity Era, in Which Celebrities Dominate Magazines as Much as Ever, One Magazine Has Found a Way to Mercilessly Mock What Others Come to Praise. (Backpage)

By Dumenco, Simon | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, March 2002 | Go to article overview

The Bitch and the Famous: In Our Supposed Post-Celebrity Era, in Which Celebrities Dominate Magazines as Much as Ever, One Magazine Has Found a Way to Mercilessly Mock What Others Come to Praise. (Backpage)


Dumenco, Simon, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


It's widely, blindly, taken for granted that we've entered some sort of more serious, less frivolous, post-celebrity era since the events of last September. The key piece of magazine-world evidence for this change, as pronounced by pundits and pontificators everywhere: Celebrity-loving celebrity editor Tina Brown's Talk bit the dust.

The other evidence of the passing of the celebrity era--well, there's not a lot of it, frankly. (If celebrity worship is passe, nobody's told In Style and just about every other mass-market magazine.)

But consider this: The continuing existence and flourishing of Blender, the Maxim spin-off and self-declared "ultimate music magazine," represents a new paradigm in the celebrity-industrial complex, a harbinger of a post-celebrity era in which celebrities are diminished without being dismissed.

Blender, by definition, cares--passionately, obsessively--about celebrities, just like its forebears Rolling Stone and Spin (both of which the unaudited Blender claims it's outselling on the newsstand). And yet, unlike those two titles, which maintain a largely reverential attitude toward celebrities, Blender (which already has a ratebase of 350,000) eats the rich (and famous) for lunch--and celebrities continue to line up for a place at the table.

Consider February/March, the current issue. Here's how Blender treats Linkin Park on the TOC: "Bandleader Chester Bennington has many tattoos and lots of childhood issues--but he's off drugs (more or less) and he packs his own suitcase! Such a nice young man."

Nice: Every rockstar pretension--even the pretension to (relative) normalcy--is neatly mocked. Inside, a photo caption of Bennington showcases his spiky yellow hair: "HEAD CASE: Bennington in disguise as ... Bart Simpson." It's worth noting that Linkin Park, an earnest alterna-metal outfit that takes its youthful angst seriously, is currently one of the world's biggest bands--their debut, "Hybrid Theory," was the best selling album of 2001.

Elsewhere, Blender pokes fun at Mariah Carey, Metallica, the Wu-Tang Clan, Michael Jackson, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, Natalie Imbruglia, Alanis Morissette and more--pretty much the entire spectrum of popular music. …

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