No one has ever credited Entertainment Weekly with being a bastion of fine journalism. It does not have the wry, intellectual sophistication of a New Yorker, nor the weathered sturdiness of a U.S. News And World Report. But as a readable, workmanlike round-up of what is going on on a weekly basis in the world of film, television, DVD, music, and books, EW served its purpose, and I could always count on 45 minutes to an hour of perusal when it showed up in my mailbox every Thursday or Friday since my senior year in high school. The magazine provided me with some good behind-the-scenes stories (mostly favoring the films put out by EW’s parent company, Time Warner), an occasional in-depth interview, the mildly satirical Hit List, and decent capsule reviews of new releases in all of the above-mentioned areas with a simple letter-grade ratings system.
Sadly, I will no longer be reading Entertainment Weekly.
The February 20, 2009 issue (#1035) proves that EW has finally hit rock bottom. I read everything of interest to me in something less than seven minutes, and every turn of the page caused me to either cringe, moan, or bellow loudly as I rent my garments.
The downward slide started awhile ago (two years? three?) with some layout changes that I, the reader, was assured would be purely cosmetic, and the content would remain unaltered. I wanted so badly to believe that. But I began to notice a shift in emphasis. The stories got dumber. The celebrities they chose to feature got better-looking and less talented. Real interviews disappeared, and were replaced by fluffy public-relations ass-kissery. The film reviews and criticism lost their bite, and favored romantic comedies.
This sinister, subtle change began being reflected in the Letters section. It began to sound like the Letters section in People. (Want a good laugh? Read the letters people send to People. If you find this country’s tailspin into mediocrity and intellectual softness as grimly amusing as I do, you will truly soil yourself over the Letters section of People.) Here’s a brief taste of this week’s Letters section of EW: “I am so happy to see Brendan Fraser getting the attention he deserves…It’s about time we give respect to an actor who isn’t afraid to be in all kinds of movies…” My word, that’s a bold statement, Valerie Grayson of Sugar Land, Texas. Perhaps if you move beyond renting your movies from the automated kiosk at the grocery store, you would figure out that there are literally dozens of actors who are fearless enough to be in “all kinds” of movies. Just a thought.
My ultimate point is that Entertainment Weekly has decided that their target audience, their Ideal Reader, is a not-too-bright fifteen-year-old girl. A lot of back issues of EW are probably left laying around on the snack table at Sylvan Learning Center, if you get my drift.
The third Twilight cover in as many months. Even most fans of the book agree the movie was dogshit, and the two dead-eyed leads couldn’t act hot if their hair was on fire. But the new EW can’t resist pretty, pretty people. (This month’s cover story featured the previously-unseen “Director’s Diaries.” What’s next? Garfield: The Lost Sketches? The secret Hannah Montana demos?)
Up next…Special Sunglasses Edition! A gripping report on celebrity shades, and where you can buy them if you have $345 and a crippling lack of self-worth. Evidently, EW’s mailboxes are straining under the weight of all the requests from people dying to get their sticky, Spaghetti-O-stained hands on 90210 star Erin Silver’s eyewear.
Aaaand the ever-popular post-awards show dress comparison. Mee-yow. If I wanted to regularly judge people based on their apparel, I’d go to church each Sunday.
And this headline:
Even fucking Us Weekly would be ashamed of that one.
It wouldn’t be the new EW without a multi-page tribute to rom-coms.
And the final insult. When all else failed, I could rely on EW, even quite recently, for level-headed film reviews.
Confessions Of A Shopaholic. “Romantic comedy fizz…that bubbles like champagne.”
Go fuck yourself, Entertainment Weekly.