Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Vanity put into Perspective
I picked up a copy of Vanity Fair magazine yesterday because it had a story about Barbara Walters’ heart surgery. I guess I’m into health stories now. I had back to back appointments with two doctors this week and about the only thing I found out for sure was that I’m screwed. I had hoped that I’d get this breast cancer project finished in 2010 and not have to start over in 2011 with a new deductible. That ain’t gonna happen. My best hope right now is to avoid chemotherapy.
So it just seemed like reading about somebody else with worse health might perk me up.
As my friends might tell you about me, I’m not really the type to read Vanity Fair much. I think even the Walmart sales flyer is a bit beyond me. So I opened the half-inch thick glossy magazine and fell into another world. Alice sharing tea with the Mad Hatter was probably more in tune with Wonderland than Jane Els is reading Vanity Fair. I couldn’t have felt any more like a Martian dropped onto a strange world if had strapped on antennae and imitated Robin Williams.
To start with, it appears that the whole magazine is ads. And not like any other ads I’ve ever seen. The ads all feature beautiful people wearing or using outrageously expensive things. And the beautiful people in these ads are all famous beautiful people. Famous beautiful people wearing, carrying and consuming stuff I will never be able to afford or fit into. So, I decided to take the magazine apart just to see how much of the $4.99 glossy tribute to shallowness is actually journalism.
Journalism. I may be revealing how much of a dinosaur I am to remember a time when the news was impartial and the features articles illuminated reputations instead of shredding them. I studied journalism for four years and had two things drilled into my brain: spell people’s names correctly and don’t make stuff up. A corollary might have been to stay in the real world.
But this magazine is all ads. I’m not sure why I had to pay for it. Surely the money they make from all those ads pays for the entire magazine with a little left over to have a really nice Christmas party for the employees. In my zeal to check on Barbara’s health and how Cher is doing these days I had to wade through more advertising than the amount of cow shit the average cowboy has to wade through on his way through the pasture.
Here’s what I found: (another disclaimer: Yes, I cut up reading material again. It was my magazine. I paid for it. I get to do anything I want with it. Plus, all those ads had put me in an aggressive mood.)
First, I measured the magazine. It was over a half an inch thick.
Then I cut each page out. I use an exacto knife for magazines because it's easier. You'll remember when I cut books apart I use a serated kitchen knife. The two require different knife skills.
And sorted them into two piles: ads and then actual reading material.Over half of the magazine was ads.
What have I learned from this process? Clearly, I have way too much time on my hands.
And, just as I finished wrapping up this posting, I got a call that my dear friend, Debbie, was in a really bad car accident. On my way out the door to the hospital I got an update: she wasn't driving, she was a pedestrian. A car hit her while she was crossing the street. Her pelvis was shattered and everything else in that area smushed as you might imagine would happen if a car hit you while you were walking across the street. She's having a second surgery today and a third tomorrow. Right now she's in ICU and it would be really cool if you would pray for her.
It certainly put all of my trivial ponderings into perspective. I will let Vanity Fair off the hook for a while because I have more important things to worry about. And maybe that is the moral of the story, anyway.