Saturday, March 31, 2007

"It's important to model good behavior for your kids," by Britney Spears.

Is anyone else as tickled as I am by the usual tenor of the cover stories in Parade? In particular, by the side-splitting discord between the uplifting, Miss America-like, "why I want to save the world!" quotes, and the mouths from which those quotes typically emerge?

For those who don't get Parade with their Sunday paper, the cover stories almost always consist of some feel-good tripe about personal redemption or accumulated wisdom or "giving back to the community," and they almost always unfold in the form of a profile of some A-list celebrity who's about the last person on earth you'd expect to be saying what the person on the cover is saying. What's more, as if to prove the point, usually within a short period of time that person ends up once again involved in some embarrassing scandal or fiasco that would be very much out of character for the kind of person who truly lived the sentiments merely expressed in Parade.

Tomorrow's* cover story is "I've Learned I Don't Have the Right to be Selfish," by—are you ready?—Halle Berry (in a typically modest pose, above). That's amusing enough on its face, with Berry being manifestly the most vain oxygen-breathing organism known to man. But it's even funnier if you read the actual story, because right there, as she's talking about not having the right to be selfish, she reveals herself as someone ruled by near-Streisandian levels of self-involvement. All Halle Berry talks about is Halle Berry, and what's important to Halle Berry (i.e. Halle Berry), and what Halle Berry thinks and feels about Halle Berry. Incidentally, so far as I can tell, the type of "selfish" that she's learned she "doesn't have the right to be" relates to her erstwhile thoughts of committing suicide...because, after all, wouldn't it be grievously selfish to deprive the world of Halle Berry? (OK, I'm riffing on what she actually says, a little bit...but only a little bit.)

Still, we mortals may draw comfort from knowing that even a Halle Berry is able to find "101 things" that, by her own admission, she does "stink at." And what, pray tell, might those be? "I stink at being told what to do," she confides. "I stink at taking advice from other people. I stink at marriage." In other words, she stinks at precisely what you'd expect a flaming narcissist to stink at: anything that involves considering the thoughts and feelings of others.

What's next? I wonder. "There's No Substitute for Self-Discipline," by Mike Tyson? "A Good Boss Thinks First and Foremost of His Employees," by Ken Lay?

Any other suggestions that we could forward along to People's editorial braintrust?

* For whatever reason, in my neck-o'-the-woods, Parade accompanies Saturday's edition, along with those 1000 advertising circulars that most people expect on Sunday.


luckycanucky said...

Naomi Campbell as guru for "Defeat the Beast: The anger management course for beginners."

a/good/lysstener said...

Tell the truth, Steve, was this just a feeble excuse to put up that picture of Halle Berry looking so hot? ;-) That is a funny post, though, I must admit.

What about "I've Learned the Value of Lasting Commitment" by Charlie Sheen?

Cosmic Connie said...

Halle's a cutie, and I have nothing against narcissism because I, too, am a narcissist. But I've long been annoyed by those Parade cover stories for the very reason they annoy you, Steve. These stories are always about a celeb who just came through some really tough times and is now on top of the world, ready to share their hard-earned wisdom with the rest of us.

And I'm sorry to bring up "The Secret" again... but y'know, these celebs seem to be the very antithesis of "Law of Attraction" in action. Here they are, basking in the triumph of overcoming adversity, focusing on all the good things that are happening in their lives. So it would seem that the Universe would just keep on bestowing more good things on them. Instead, it often appears that the Universe, after getting an earful of their boasting, says, "Oh, yeah?" And before too long...oops, the celeb is in trouble again.

But Parade just keeps on churning these stories out. I guess that's what they think the reading public likes.

Cal said...


Your post reminded of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, which I'm sure you are well aware of. In business and economics, there is a Time/Newsweek cover jinx. If they put a bull or have an overtly positive story about the economy, it is usually not too soon before the business cycle goes in the tank (and vice versa with a bear or negative cover story). And Time has a Person of the Year each year. In '03 it was the U.S. Soldier and in '04 we really started having a lot of our servicemen starting to get killed in Iraq. It sounds like coincidence, but it is so interesting how often the opposite occurs of what it being touted.

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, I liked your idea about an article on putting one's employees first, written by Ken Lay -- but it would have to be channeled, since he has gone on to the Great Beyond (or maybe the Great Below).

Steve Salerno said...

Right; I knew that, Connie, and I figured someone would call me on it, which is why initially I considered using one of Lay's Enron cohorts (Jeff Skilling, perhaps), except that I doubted that Skilling would have the name recognition.

Steve Salerno said...

Incidentally--and we'll get to these sorts of (far-out?) discussions eventually, this year--Lay and the rest of the Enron boys are one of the chief "exhibits" in the case I plan to make for why America's entire penal system could use some rethinking. If we are indeed going to keep the death penalty (and I'm not saying we should, by any means--but just if), is it more appropriate in the case of some wacko who kills a single individual? Or does it seem more fitting in the case of somebody like Ken Lay, who--quite literally--ruined the lives and futures of thousands of people, and to some degree threw the entire American economy into disarray?

Matt Dick said...

Critical Thinking by Tom Cruise

Matt Dick said...

BTW, Jeff Skilling would have fairly big name recognition in the Midwest, his brother is Tom Skilling, a prominent Chicago weatherman.

Patrick said...

Mike Tyson knows more about self-discipline than almost anyone on the planet. The man reached the pinnacle of his profession-- the #1 undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Such an accomplishment takes a lot of practice and hard work. And self-discipline.

Steve Salerno said...

I think you're misdiagnosing things here, Patrick. What drove Tyson, more than anything, was the famed "killer instinct" that boxing aficionados look for in all fighters--particularly heavyweights, from whom we like to expect the one-punch knockouts (or devastating two-punch combinations) that became Iron Mike's signature. Cus D'Amato recognized that instinct in Tyson when Mike was barely into his teens. For my money, Tyson also had the fastest hands of any heavyweight, yes, including Ali. I know you can't really do these kinds of generational comparisons, but I truly believe that Mike, in his prime, would've knocked Ali on his rear--putting some serious dents in that pretty face--in a couple of rounds. You couldn't hide from the young Mike Tyson, or keep him at bay.

Rage, combined with incredible physical gifts, made Mike Tyson great in the ring. That same rage destroyed his life outside the ring--where what he really needed was discipline.