Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 28, 2006
By: Christina Larson

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL... Vogue editor Anna Wintour must be an insufferable boss. But as The Devil Wears Prada, a movie based on a former assistant's vitriolic roman a clef, hits screens, l hope Wintour doesn't have a proverbial bad hair day. Last year, in reviewing Jerry Oppenheimer's unauthorized bio of Wintour, I came to sympathize with the devil. (If y'er curious why, read the review; I'll be quick here.)

Most women's magazines, in the guise of trying to help a gal get her life straight, introduce a dozen more things to start worrying about, from how your date ruins your diet to how your haircut is holding back your career. And then there's Vogue. Unlike its glossy peers on the newsstand, it at least isn't fully saturated with tips to flatten your abs, flaunt your cleavage, or squeeze into your thin jeans by Friday; it assumes you need no help mastering love moves no man can resist.

While Vogue surely exists to sell adswhich it does remarkably wellit does so more by exploiting women's ambition, than insecurity. Christina Larson 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

This, of course, may be a bit like praising steroid sellers for appealling to ambition rather than insecurity.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim on June 28, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Most women's magazines, in the guise of trying to help a gal get her life straight, introduce a dozen more things to start worrying about, from how your date ruins your diet to how your haircut is holding back your career.

Help! Editor! You're fucking up my life! Ooh, look, shoes...

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Broken link

Posted by: G.B. on June 28, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

craigie nails it.

next thread please.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 28, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

????

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 28, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting.

It's always driven me crazy that Cosmopolitan is supposedly a women's magazine as it does cover art that is clearly designed to be male erotica.

This year in using up my expiring airline miles I subscribed to a magazine called Jane that I thought would be appropriate teeny-bopper material for my girls, and discovered it was all about how to make your man wild. Modern girls, apparently, can talk dirty just like the boys. Wow, we've come a long way, haven't we?

Posted by: catherineD on June 28, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

OK, in the scheme of things this ain't all that important, but may I just say "Hah" to this overly generous assessment of Vogue. It's all about money, not ambition, and the sort of money that allows you to pretend that wearing something that resembles something my cat hacked up on the carpet yesterday is actually a beautiful thing. Ambition to do a job well because you love it is one thing, ambition to look "better" than another because it makes you feel like Paris Hilton, well, that's just sad.

Posted by: Well-paid teacher on June 28, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Cristina:

*Vogue*?

Slow news day, huh ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Cristina:

I have a great idea. Since new movies are obviously now considered a worthy topic-driver here -- why don't you put up a post about Adam Sandler's 'Click' (which, sadly enough, I saw last week) so we can debate the subtextual message.

Is it a movie that reaffirms family values and stopping to smell the roses -- or does it sneakily promote techno-lust, because we'd all just *kill* to own one of those Universal Remote Controls that would allow us to fast-forward through tedious parts of our life?

Oooh, I can hardly fucking wait.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I have a great idea. Since new movies are obviously now considered a worthy topic-driver here -- why don't you put up a post about Adam Sandler's 'Click'
Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

'Click'. . . or 'Christopher Walken Jumps The Shark'

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 28, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

But the crucial question is: what does Amy Sullivan think of all this?

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on June 28, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think you are assuming too much background knowledge on the part of your readers. Who is Anna Wintour? What is The Devil Wears Pravda? What does a bad hair day have to do with anything?

I suspect I could find these things out by reading the link, but I don't have enough to even know why I would want to read the link.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on June 28, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

OBF:

Hey -- Chrisopher Walken (whose cameo in Magnolia almost made me piss my pants) was *easily* the best goddamn part of Happy Madison Attains Adulthood.

I saw him in the 80s off-Broadway as Coriolanus. Dude's a great actor, despite his later years evolving nicely into a self-parody :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

EmmaAnne: I am about as far from a fashionista as one could get -- but here's the rundown:

Anna Wintour: Editrix-in-chief of Vogue magazine.

The Devil Wears Prada: A new movie with Meryl Streep as an Anna Wintour character who runs a Vogue-like magazine.

Bad Hair Day: What both Anna Wintour and her readership occasionally have which provokes them to random acts of passive-aggressive yet deeply sociopathic behavior :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK
Oooh, I can hardly fucking wait. Bob Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

. . . .

But the crucial question is: what does Amy Sullivan think of all this?
Posted by: C.J.Colucci on June 28, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK



Gee, could we be any more snarky? We used to have one of the leading commenters on the nexus of liberal politics and faith, and Lord knows how we treated her, now we have one of the leading commenters on the line between environmentalism and sporting, and we're headed right up about the same line.

Bloggers have secondary interests--that's part of what makes Kevin and his cats different from some syndicated columnist. So could we lay off the ladies, even if they like the Wizards or Wintour? Awful stupid standards we're holding, deafening us to some good commentary (Unless y'all only like taking politics from guys. You could just say that too. Otherwise, bring on Jasmine and Inkblot, and Arenas and Ana).

Posted by: dunno on June 28, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Chritopher Walkin is a good actor who takes Sub-B movie roles, does nothing to elevate the movie, but is still fun to watch. I would say that Walken jumps the shark in nearly every role he does, usually more than once.

Posted by: Boronx on June 28, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

catherineD, that's always amazed me too. You'll often find more nipples in Cosmo than Playboy.
So, men read magizines with pictures of scantily clad babes, while women read magizines with pictures of scantily clad babes, only with narrow hips.

Posted by: Boronx on June 28, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx:

So who's the better shark-jumper:

Christopher Walken -- or Dennis Hopper? :)

dunno:

Well, you're getting a little huff-huff-Huffington huffy yourself. And I think you miss the point.

Personally, I love social and cultural commentary. Often, I'd rather respond to those kinds of posts -- which provoke historical essays and sociological discussions -- than I do the straight political stuff.

Had the post been about the general sexist assumptions behind "liberated" womens' magazines -- that'd be entirely inside the ballpark. I'd probably go off on one of my patented Cosmo rants.

Instead, it was a post provoked by a summer 'blockbuster' movie, which is in fact *defending* a wretchedly hegemonic fashion magazine because its *overt* message speaks to confidence and not insecurity.

Not one flipping word about the *subtext* though -- which is just as infantilizingly enslaved to empty commerce as Cosmo or Ladies Home Journal -- as a commenter above noted.

I'm sorry. This is not the People Magazine blog.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

dunno:

And look -- I love Meryl Streep. Had it been a post strictly about the movie, that'd be okay, too. I enjoy movie or music threads as much as anybody. I just flipped out at the obtuseness of the substance of what she was saying.

A firm command of the obvious tends to bring out the worst in me as a commenter, I'm afraid ...

Loved Streep and Lily Tomlin in 'A Prarie Home Companion' -- all the subtly arch humor of which completely blew by my seat-mate.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

More hostility, insults, and disdain by commenters toward female posters. Total coincidence, I'm sure ...

Posted by: Realish on June 28, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Realish:

I offered a substantive argument for why I objected to that post.

But apparently you didn't read it.

Total coincidence, I'm sure ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree, Realish. Had Kevin posted this, exactly as written, he would not have avoided much of the criticism. OTOH, he and his readership have become so well attuned that he might have posted something with much the same substance without grating on our nerves. The post is pretty shallow, and so were the negative responses, in addition to being hair-trigger and overblown. It's a good day for blogging.

Posted by: Boronx on June 28, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx:

I fully admit that my responses to the post and to their responses were hair-trigger and overblown.

And I also agree that it's a good day for blogging :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I was not expressing hostility towards Christina as a woman blogger (or otherwise). I was pointing out that her post, in my view, started in the middle. I couldn't make head or tails of it without doing further research to figure who the people are and what the references meant. Luckily rmk shared his vast knowledge of the fashion magazine world so I am no longer at sea.

It is a natural tendency to think that other people have been thinking about the same things you have and know what you know, but if you want to communicate to a general audience, it helps to put people in the picture before you make your points. I figured the feedback might be helpful to her, or she is free to ignore it, her choice.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on June 28, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ambitioninsecurity. One cant exist without the other. Best to get rid of both and live a happy life.

Lao Tsu
(Or what he might have said if he ever saw a copy of Cosmopolitan or Vogue.)

Posted by: James of DC on June 28, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
If you shaved your trigger and let out your breath, would you still be our Bob? 'Cause some of us like you Just the Way You Are, a concept that Vogue cannot subscribe to because it won't sell magazines.

Posted by: Darrell not Hannah on June 28, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Oh, Oh. Ideas for movies, how about The Devil Wears Jockyes! No, wait! The Devil Wears Lee Press-on Nails. No, wait! The Devil Wears Falsies. Hollywood must be breathless at the possiblities if this movie does good. (sorry, gotta little overzealous there.)

Posted by: Lisa K, Trottsdale on June 28, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Lisa K:

The Devil Votes Republican

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Darrell:

Well, thank you -- but tell it to shortstop ... *sigh*

I continually manage to rub her the wrong way and I've never remotely figured out how or why ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Devil is Republican (and his initials are KR).

Posted by: matttbastard on June 28, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this must be some kind of zen koan, or maybe it's a post that only women can hear, but I even clicked through to the link and still don't get it. Oh well.

Posted by: serial catowner on June 28, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Catherine D, have we really come such a long way? If women read Cosmopolitan and Jane to learn to please men, is that so different from the Courtesans of Europe or the Geishas of Japan? Yes, the mass of women certainly have more sexual freedom today. Freedom to have casual sex, freedom to raise any resulting children by themselves with no help from the father, who is now running after some other woman to help her express her new freedom. I guess the "long way" we've come, is that while a small minority of women used to be the expoited ones, now its the mass of them.

Posted by: James of DC on June 28, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Gee, could we be any more snarky?" -- dunno

Yeah, actually, we could. Larson's post, like many of Sullivan's, is remarkably content-free, doesn't seem to have a point, and is -- the unpardonable sin when you're writing about fluff -- dull. "Lay off the ladies"? Nobody gets a free ride here, and gender has nothing to do with it. Try mau-mauing someone who has reason to fall for it.

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on June 29, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, to address the topic seriously and on-point, I think there's a big flaw in Larson's comparison between Vogue and all other fashion magazines.

Somebody correct this single middle-aged turkey if he's wrong -- but doesn't Vogue cater to a *way* upscale demographic? The sorts of women who can wear couture five days a week and twice on Sundays? And doesn't it strike everyone that Cosmo more caters to a younger, working/professional/single girl demographic?

If so, that -- and not the particular dynamics of Wintour -- would amply explain the difference in focus. While Vogue is more free to focus on "ambition" -- what it's really riding on is *security*.

These women *already have it made*, if they can afford to wear Prada that often. Naturally a younger unmarried lower-rung career demographic would be more focused on how to land a man, how to get along with your boss, how to take one's femininity to the max.

Does editorial policy really override demographics in the magazine biz?

I think not.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 29, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

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