Friday High Five: Bad journalism, the art of comedy and climate change
We bring you our favourite findings from around the internet this week.
Men’s magazine culture and the worst celebrity profile ever
The internet has been aflame this week over what’s been described as ‘the worst celebrity profile ever’. Stephen Marche (who also writes for the New York Times) interviewed Megan Fox for Esquire, where he has a monthly column, and waxed lyrical in cringeworthy terms about her ‘perfectly symmetrical’ features, repeatedly, making weird metaphorical references to Aztec sacrifice rituals (comparisons to celebrity) and Noah’s Ark (because Fox’s son is named Noah).
In Crikey, former editor of FHM stands up for Marche (but not the article), with an inside look at writing for a lad’s mag and the way that writing fawning articles on celebrity babes is a payoff for more interesting writing elsewhere.
The Real Jerry Seinfeld Stands Up
This New York Times profile takes Jerry Seinfeld seriously – and provides a fascinating insight into him as a consummate comedy craftsman. He may have created a show famously ‘about nothing’, but this article makes it clear that all that ‘nothing’ was very, very carefully constructed … and that behind his easygoing alter-ego Jerry Seinfeld is a steely perfectionist.
Seinfeld will nurse a single joke for years, amending, abridging and reworking it incrementally, to get the thing just so. ‘It’s similar to calligraphy or samurai,’ he says. ‘I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That’s it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it.’
It’s All About the Lance
The whole (western) world’s talking about Lance Armstrong and his Oprah confession - and what his admission of doping means for the sport of cycling. Wired looks at the talk-show ritual of rehabilitation, and why it won’t work this time. Bethanie Blanchard looks at the similarities between Armstrong and his fellow Oprah’s-couch-confessor James Frey. A Manly library unexpectedly made world headlines with a (jokey) sign stating that Lance Armstrong’s books would be moved from the non-fiction to the fiction section; there were similar debates about the classification of Frey’s book.
And The Atlantic looks at the ‘real’ need to protect athletes from themselves, and why widespread doping affects kids mounting the first rungs of the elite sport ladder. (If everyone dopes, then it stands to reason that if you want to compete at an elite level, you do too.)
In surveys administered between 1982 and 1995, half of elite athletes said they would take an undetectable PED if doing so meant they would win an Olympic gold medal, even if the drug were guaranteed to kill them within five years. When that hypothetical was posed to 250 normal Australians, less than one percent said they would take the gold-then-death drug.
Alec Baldwin interviews Lena Dunham
Did you know Alec Baldwin has a radio series? We’ve discovered it this week, via his recent interviews with Girls‘ Lena Dunham. ‘You are nothing like I imagined you would be,’ Baldwin tells her, saying that though her character, Hannah Horvath, is ‘a beat behind everyone else’, she looks like she could be ‘a senator or the head of a corporation’. Dunham says that Hannah is ‘the version of myself if I’d had less understanding parents and less drive to get things done’.
The Climate Change Endgame
The New York Times has a sobering (okay, seriously depressing) piece on the effects of climate change that describes the ‘massive extinctions and widespread ecosystem collapse’ that will occur even in the event - looking unlikely - that we can limit climate change to a global warming of two degrees.
At current global warming of 0.8-0.9 degrees, the fingerprints of climate change can be seen virtually everywhere in nature. The coniferous forests of western North America are currently experiencing massive tree mortality because climate change has tipped the balance in favor of native bark beetles. The Amazon seems to be edging close to dieback in the southern and southeastern portions of the great forest.