Scandal rocks New York Magazine


What is the matter with New York magazine?  This issue shows on the front cover a photograph of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their new baby (as pictured).

Just kidding!  Those are models.  Now that you’ve bought the magazine, the truth may be told.  In 7 point type:

Requisite disclaimer: This is a fake picture Brad is an imposter; Angelina is a computer clone.  The baby has not yet been born. 

In the typography business, 7 point type is called "mouse print."  It’s virtually invisible.

How craven do you have to fund your commercial success using someone else’s privacy (or the facsimile thereof)?  How utterly without journalist scruple to trade in the bond between parent and child?  How deeply and completely corrupt does this make you?

Using the photos of the real Jolie and Pitt would be objectionable.  But New York magazine has stuped to turning real people into avatars, the better to have them do their bidding. 

What’s especially galling is that it comes with a wink, as if to say

When New York magazine does this sort of thing it’s ok, because we’re being ironic, we’re having a little fun with the whole concept of celebrity, we’re being critical.

Ladies and gentlemen, when you hear these terms, I advise you to collect the silver and run for your lives.  There is an intellectual mountebank in the house. 

"Whole concept" is particularly telling.  What it tells you is that the speaker is having a hard time "getting their head around" an idea.  "Critical," especially when applied to "studies," "approach," or "theory," tells you that the writer is too stupid to understand that all studies, approaches and theories are "critical" except, rather too often, the ones that feel obliged to say they are. 

Come to think of it, it’s a little like saying "requisite disclaimer."  This is the kind of thing stupid people say when they’re trying to be cute.  All disclaimers are requisite.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t make them.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I give the impression that the editors and writers actually used language like "whole concept," and "critical?" 

They have made their breakfast.  Now they may lie in it. 

That means you, Adam Moss, editor-in-chief, John Homans, executive editor, and Ann Clarke, managing editor.  Shame on you.


McCracken, Grant. 2006.  Celebrity Culture: Muddles in the models.  This Blog Sits At The… October 10, 2005. here.

Zengerle, Jason.  2006.  Not Since Jesus.  New York.  April 17, 2006, pp. 32-39. 

2 thoughts on “Scandal rocks New York Magazine

  1. LK

    The attack on cultural/critical studies continues…sometimes warranted, yes but not across the board. I think it’s worth thinking (sic) about the methodology behind critical studies. Sure, in an ideal world everyone would think so methodically and thoroughly, but in actuality how often does it happen. Therefore I submit the following, from ethnographer Anne Galloway’s always interesting site


    What is critical thinking?

    Critical thinking forces us to take responsibility for our own attitudes and behaviours.

    Critical thinking IS a set of skills to process and generate information and beliefs.
    Critical thinking IS well-founded, structured and reinforced thinking.
    Critical thinking IS reliable, relevant, coherent and consistent.
    Critical thinking IS skillful, responsible thinking that facilitates good judgment.
    Critical thinking IS the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behaviour.
    Critical thinking IS NOT the mere acquisition and retention of information alone.
    Critical thinking IS NOT the mere possession of a set of skills.
    Critical thinking IS NOT the mere use of those skills without acceptance of their results.
    Critical thinking IS NOT claims or opinions without reasons.
    Critical thinking IS NOT judgments without criteria.
    Why ask questions?

    Thinking is not driven by answers; thinking is driven by questions.

    Questions drive our thought underneath the surface of things and questions force us to deal with complexity:

    Questions of purpose force us to define our task.
    Questions of information force us to look at our sources of information as well as at the quality of our information.
    Questions of interpretation force us to examine how we are organising or giving meaning to information.
    Questions of assumption force us to examine what we are taking for granted.
    Questions of implication force us to follow out where our thinking is going.
    Questions of points of view force us to examine our points of view and to consider other relevant points of view.
    Questions of relevance force us to discriminate what does and does not bear on a question.
    Questions of accuracy force us to evaluate and test for truth and correctness.
    Questions of precision force us to give details and be specific.
    Questions of consistency force us to examine our thinking for contradictions.
    Questions of logic force us to consider how we are putting the whole of our thoughts together and if they make sense.
    Critical thinking skills:

    Discovering the weaknesses in our positions and correcting what is at fault in our procedures
    Taking into account relevant contexts
    Developing insight into personal, social and cultural biases
    Developing intellectual courage
    Exploring underlying feelings and thoughts
    Developing intellectual humility, suspending judgment and being fair
    Refining generalisations and avoiding oversimplifications
    Clarifying issues, conclusions or beliefs
    Developing criteria for evaluation by clarifying values and standards
    Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant facts
    Developing intellectual perseverance
    Recognising contradictions
    Exploring implications and consequences
    Developing one’s own perspective by creating and exploring other ways of thinking
    When thinking critically it is essential to distinguish three different types of questions:

    Those with one right answer (factual questions) such as “Is capital punishment legal in Canada?”
    Those based on mere preference such as “Would you rather live in Whitehorse or Halifax?”
    Those with better or worse answers (well reasoned or poorly reasoned) such as “How should we eradicate homelessness in Canada?”
    Critical thinking provides the tools necessary to answer the last type of question.

Comments are closed.