The State of the Union: Culture edition
I'd never heard of Kat Dennings (pictured) before. That changed when I read this month's Vanity Fair, the one with Serena van der Woodsen on the "Hollywood's New Wave" cover. Without going down the Gossip Girls wormhole, again, I now know this: Ms. Dennings was in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (which was good, but not the seminal comedy some try to present it as) and will appear in the upcoming film, The House Bunny. I hear it's about a talking indoor rabbit. Or a stripper/nude model who does something presumably funny and, after some unexpected drama, uplifting and empowering at a house.
She also lists her hometown as Philadelphia in VF, which is reason enough for me to not only reference her here, but use her as a springboard into what I consider the best summary of the past five years of modern culture I've read in, well, the past five years. (It's in the article about the young kiddies who will either shave their heads and assault car doors or go crazy. Those are the only options. Seriously. World's wacked.) To wit:
It was the spring of 2003 — a more innocent time in America, comparatively speaking.
At Smashbox Studios in Culver City, California, Vanity Fair convened Hollywood’s most promising teen titans and twentysomethings to be polled and photographed for a glamorous yearbook spread in the magazine. Only a half-decade ago it was, yet it seems like a cultural eon.
A young star, fresh from the produce section, could still venture out at night without fear of being pecked to pieces like Tippi Hedren in The Birds.
Founded the previous year, the Web site Gawker, that celebrity garbage-disposal unit, hadn’t yet left its snot mark on the culture; its best worst years lay ahead.
YouTube hadn’t yet sprung into existence to provide a pandemic platform for every unguarded mishap and surveillance-cam video.
Nor had TMZ and its splattergun TV spin-off, where a bull pen of avid rookies lob chum at host Harvey Levin during the show (actual teaser: “Jamie Lynn Spears and Casey went to the Wal-Mart superstore yesterday … ”—pushing a shopping cart, no less!) as they all sip from their stupid cups of whatever.
HBO’s Entourage, tracking a merry band of moochers along the red carpets and velvet ropes of post-MTV Hollywood, had yet to hug it out, bitch.
I'm not gonna lie. I love me some Entourage. But VF is onto something with the rest of it, particularly Gawker (though you can substitute anybody who trades in snark here -- and if you think I'm looking at you, I am) leaving "its snot mark on the culture." I'm not being ironic here. Too much snot out there.
In any event, check the piece out. Not only are there pretty pictures of pretty people (and a video in which McLovin sings about doing dirty things to Christian Bale, but only in his bat suit), but it's quite a shock to sit back and realize how much has changed how quickly and how little of it actually has a lick of value. (My vote for the biggest success of the bunch is Amanda Seyfried of Allentown. Something about the eyes. And, of course, the talent shown on Big Love.)