I've been on the verge of writing this for the past six months, but my loyalty to the only magazine I consistently read kept me from doing it. But this week, I was pushed over the edge. First, a little backstory.
Much like Kevin Arnold, Entertainment Weekly came into existence at a crucial period of my life. Just as I was realizing my love of all things movie/tv/celebrity, it was there to tell me about all things movie/tv/celebrity. It has always had the perfect format: news and notes, articles, and then reviews of movies, dvd, tv, music, and books. It never crossed the line into being "too funny" or "too tabloidy", it always stayed a little journalistic. In other words, it never went the Us Weekly route. And I've been reading it every single week for the last 12 years (fuck, i'm old).
The one problem with EW has always been the movie critics. They suck. They always have, and they always will. But it was easy to look past the craptasticness of Lisa Schwartzbaum and Owen Glieberman because the rest of the magazine is damn good. You had Dalton Ross doing the "what to watch" TV section, and Ken Tucker doing quality TV reviews (though he overly loved Alias, but then again, always championed Felicity. "Blumberg Industries!"), and David Browne seems to know his music. It's consistently a slightly humorous and informative quick read, and it has made many 50 minute LA to Oakland flights less harrowing for me. And I'm grateful for that, I truly am, but now, to my dismay, the magazine sucks.
I have no ability to judge time, but I think it was maybe two years ago when they changed Editors. I had no idea back then how this would screw up my life. Writers were moved around. The format changed slightly. Dalton Ross was moved from his perfect "what to watch" slot into the always horrific Hot Sheet. A place where writers go to die.
But it wasn't any of the cosmetic changes that killed the magazine, it's the tone. Now, it's "funny". It was funny before, but now it is trying to be funny. All the time. It's fucking embarrassing. How the hell are you critiquing shit when the shit you are writing isn't good? It's similar to the dilemma I face when I critique shit even though you all know that I wrote "In the Mix". It's difficult to take me seriously, isn't it? Dammit, I shouldn't have told you about it. These idiots are cracking bad jokes and yet they're trying to tell me that I shouldn't see "The Benchwarmers". Well, you're obviously no judge of comedy so it doesn't mean much.
All of the sudden, they're doing "bits". They're making up "fake polls" with fake responses that are just "jokes". Everytime I start to read one of these bits I get so pissed 2 seconds in when I realize they're just trying to do a joke. Dude, I want the information, I don't want your crap ass comedy. If you were any good, you'd be sitting across from me right now writing beaner jokes.
These develpments have been upsetting and I've been trying to overlook it, but the real reason I'm writing this is because of something else. Something worse. For the past year, EW has been spouting insane blanket statements that no one agrees with. It seems like every week there is a comment by a columnist or a reviewer that drives me insane. I've literally thrown the magazine across my apartment in disgust several times over some bullshit they state as fact. I'm bummed right now because I haven't been writing them down and I wish I had, because it would make for an incredible post by me. But I'm an idiot and I didn't, so I'll just try to remember a couple of examples.
A couple of weeks ago they did a small story about Jermaine Dupri producing Mariah Carey's recent hits and how this was a big "comback" for him. They talked about how he hadn't produced any hits for a long time and how he was cold. The headline was "Jermaine Dupri's rise to music MVP -- Behind the scenes of the once-iffy producer's current hot streak". Um...what? They didn't interview him and it seemed to be just a totally made up story. Jermaine Dupri has probably been the most consistent music producer of the last 10 years. The biggest album last year was Mariah's, and the biggest album the year before that was Usher's. Well, guess who produced that? Wow, he was really down and out, he only produced the best selling album of 2004 AND 2005. And in 2004 he was named Executive Vice President of Virgin Records. Man, he was practically homeless, thank God Mariah gave him a break. Now, it took me about 2 seconds to look that up, so what the fuck? And just for the record, he also did "Tipsy" and the only good songs from Alicia Keys' first album, and of course "Welcome to Atlanta" with Ludacris and about a million more. It may not sound like the craziest thing, but it's just one in a long line of strange made up, nonsensical blanket claims.
And here's another one, two weeks ago they said that "American Beauty" was the worst Best Picture winner of all time. Now it's cool if that's what they think and some of you may agree, but it's the way it was said. This is the sentence: "Besides, everyone knows that American Beauty is the worst movie ever to snag a Best Picture statuette." Really? Everyone knows that? I've got something everyone knows: Fuck You. It's exactly that kind of horse shit that I'm talking about. What are these crazy theories and opinions and why are you saying them like it's common knowledge? That's what Bill O'Reilly does! That's not why I read the magazine. I want news, not your wacky thoughts.
But again, it's this week that put me over the edge. What was it, you ask? Well, I had gone through the magazine anger free until I hit the DVD reviews. First up, they reviewed the newly released Mel Brooks collection. And that's when they hit me over the head with this:
"Silent Movie and High Anxiety - both starring Brooks - are watchable, but the same can't be said of the unbearably crass History of the World: Part I."
Again, this is not somthing where I just disagree with their review, yes I disagree, but it's also the severity of their claim. History of the World unwatchable? You can't say that, you know why? Because even if you think it's bad, you can't deny the catchphrases it has spawned. Just for that alone it has to be watchable. "Good to be the king"? Ever heard that before? History of the World. My dad, to this very day, calls me "the piss boy". That's from History of the World. "Hitler on Ice"? History of the World.
Anyway, I wish I had catalogued all of the shit they've been saying for the past couple of years so I could make a better case, but I think you get the idea. It's craziness, I just want my old EW back. But unfortunately, it's like cute Britney Spears, it's gone forever.