While it was monsooning here Friday, I dug up some angry feelings toward pop culture magazines and put this together. It's tentatively running in the paper this week, because my editor seemed to like it. It's still a draft, and I've got more messing around with it to do... but see what you think.
To the owners, publishers, editors, and writers of Us Weekly:
I'm writing to address a few concerns I have about the publication Us Weekly. I have several problems with the magazine, so I figure I'll begin with the nameplate.
Why on earth did you decide to name the publication "Us Weekly"? The second word is clear, but "Us"? Us is a personal, first person, plural pronoun meaning "you and me," where "you" can either be singular or plural. The word insinuates that the magazine is about you and me, and nothing more. This couldn't be further from the truth. It would be more accurate for Penthouse to call itself Better Homes & Gardens.
Your magazine is filled with the intimate details of the lives of Hollywood stars and media darlings. When Paris Hilton lost the runt she calls her dog, you were on the story. When we needed a faster way to say "Brad and Angelina," you provided us with "Brangelina." Whenever Nicole Richie drops five more pounds off her hideously emaciated frame and decides to hit the beach, your photographers are on the scene.
Thanks to "Us" Weekly, we can keep track of who Jennifer Aniston is dating. We know which Simpson sister is seeing who. We now can look forward every week to a new picture of Britney Spears looking like a social services disaster.
Nowhere in your magazine, however, have I ever been able to find even a single inch of editorial copy that pertains to me. You, perhaps; but certainly not me. Instead, it's all about other people--people who certainly have better things to do than read your publication. For example, they might make anti-Semitic remarks during a DUI stop, or secretly cheat on their significant other with someone we've seen on a "reality show."
Therefore, I suggest you change the name of your magazine to "Them Weekly." It's much clearer, and it takes away the disingenuous nature of your current flag.
Then again, I should probably ask why people read your magazine in the first place. After all, it's filled with nothing but the personal details of the lives of people more interesting than you and me, and presumably the rest of your readership. These facts and speculations couldn't possibly have any practical relevance to my life--or anyone else's, really. So why does anyone read them?
The only guess I can come up with is that people read your rotten magazine to get some kind of voyeuristic thrill out of peeking in at the "ugly" side of the lives of the stars, and by so doing vicariously become someone more "glamorous" and "fabulous" than they'll ever hope to be. You feed a desire many seem to have to be famous, but you do it without challenging them ever to leave the mind-numbing glow of the televisions they have tuned to the E! network (an organization equally as evil as yours).
So maybe calling yourselves "Us" Weekly works out in the end, in some horrible way. We can pick up your magazine, read about Tom Cruise's latest insane outburst, or the hottest Rodeo Drive couple, or who in TV-land might be pregnant, and think to ourselves, "Yes, I'm one of these people, too." And then we can turn back to our televisions, open a fresh package of Oreos, and continue to get dumber and fatter.
Thanks, after all.
In other news, I went to see Doug Stanhope at the Comedy Caravan in Louisville Friday. Awesome show -- and in a very close, old-school comedy club atmosphere. Doug stood by the door after his act and I got to shake his hand and exchange a couple words. I'd written him months ago asking him to come to Louisville, and whether that had any impact on his decision to come here or not, I thanked him profusely for having made the trip.
I was almost surprised after his brutal act that he was very gracious and seemed happy to see he had fans in the audience. Anyway... it's Monday, so time to get the old nose to the grindstone.