Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's Big and it's Bland Full of Tension and Fear

It took him years but Consort has finally convinced me that tires actually should be rotated. This still strikes me as absurd, some mechanic’s equivalent of snipe-hunting -- a useless activity designed to separate me from my money but when he and Chris our trusted mechanic say “Rotate,” I say “I’ll be sitting over here with a magazine” which was where I could be found on Wednesday morning: in the waiting room; just me and the very eager young woman on the auto-parts calendar.

To reward myself for taking part in a mature activity, I bought myself In Style magazine. In Style magazine is the most vapid fashion magazine in the world, and I mean this with all respect. Everything is fabulous, sexy, elegant, stylish, fun, elegant, preppy, flirty. Adjectives are free and advertisers are king. It requires very little attention. People in a persistant vegetative state could enjoy it. It’s the perfect thing to read when someone five feet from your head is, from the sound of it, repairing a car by throwing large parts of it on the ground and then hurling beer-kegs on them.

I flipped through the pages. Ben Stiller had his eyes opened on an African mission…well, good for him. I wish I could help the little African children. Oh, it appears I can, by purchasing this Bulgari necklace for $290.00, $60.00 of which goes to help the children. Apparently, the other $230.00 goes to help the children who are the descendants of Bulgari.

Look, the hairdo for summer is relaxed waves or, as I would pronounce it, “unbrushed.” But not merely unbrushed; unbrushed after combing a $32.00 conditioner through my hair. I suspect that $32.00 separates the “Sexy Malibu beach-girl” from the “Shouting homeless woman.” I’m tired of strangers offering me spare change and blankets, so I should get the conditioner.

A new club is opening in New York! Shock! Lindsay Lohan promises to be there! Who saw that coming?

Angie Harmon is quoted as saying that she’s a Republican, which is why she’s at every party, because she doesn’t have a job. She’s also wearing what appear to be stuffed-animals as sleeves. In Style allows Angie to be Angie, without comment.

Tilda Swinton is wearing something odd. Because she’s Tilda Swinton and she’s six feet tall and she’s a Socialist and also British aristocracy there was never a chance she wasn’t going to wear something odd. But across the top of the photo is a bubble declaring, “Really! We love her daring look!” They’re worried we don’t understand that they get Tilda. Oh, In Style, we knew you did. We knew because you’re In Style and you never don’t love anybody, even women who seem to have created their outfit at JoAnn’s Craft Store close-out sale. In Style allows Tilda to be Tilda, with comment.

They love gladiator sandals.

They love Eva Mendes for only having one pose in every photo.

They love leather skirts in summer, which just sounds like a yeast-infection in the making to me.

And, oh! How they love Kate Moss. Here’s an entire page of Kate's 10 Best Looks Ever! The exclamation point tells us they mean it, or maybe it’s something they use for British people because Tilda got one as well. I examine the page. Kate in sequins. Kate in feathers. Kate in fur. Kate at the Cannes film festival in 1997 wearing a gray shift.

I’m ashamed to say my pop-culture draintrap of a brain actually remembers that outfit. She was dating Johnny Depp at the time and I recall the dress because I had an almost physical pang as I realized I’d never be able to wear that color and because at the time I remember thinking, “Yeah, but she’s underdressed.” Johnny Depp was in a dinner jacket, the women around her were in big dresses and Kate was wearing a dress I wanted for summer weddings. Had you or I gotten on to the red carpet in that dress, fashion editors would have sneered at us in print. They would have said things like “Quinn struck exactly the wrong note,” and “Quinn, looking frumpy, brought down the whole tone of the event,” and “Obviously, Quinn stopped by the premiere of the film on her way to a summer wedding.” It was the wrong dress for the event but it was on Kate Moss so it became, by definition, the right dress because Kate Moss wasn’t wearing the dress, Kate Moss was wearing Kate Moss and no one else can get that.

My mind raced. I turned the pages. In Style tried to make a strapless jumpsuit look appealing, but I had no time for their nonsense, because it was possible I was having an epiphany while my tires were being rotated. Ah, here we go. Rachel Bilson, ingénue of some kind, is giving fashion advice. For summer she suggests wearing low boots with a cute knit dress or denim shorts and a t-shirt. I happen to have seen Rachel Bilson once in a grocery store. She was wearing some variation of that look and it was adorable. And do you know why it was adorable? Because she’s wildly beautiful, the width of a pipe-cleaner and in her twenties. I’ve never seen her act but if I had, I would have found her even more adorable because In Style’s exhortations notwithstanding, the adoration of a star’s style is not actually about Louboutin heels or what color lipgloss they wear.

[I won’t even mention how she suggests getting a blazer from the boy’s department as an alternative to a light sweater for summer evenings. Were I to wear a boy’s blazer over a light summer dress, I’d look like a real-estate agent who had a nervous breakdown and started showing houses in her nightgown.]

One of the unforeseen side-effects of the Internet is how we have so much more information about celebrities. Thousands of websites dedicated to all celebrities, certain celebrities, certain shows, children of celebrities, pets of celebrities, trash about celebrities, trash of celebrities. We get more, so we expect more. We expect more, so we get more. There's nothing we don't know about our star of choice, including their mortgage, vegetable of choice and STD history. Celebrities had children before the year 2000 but there weren’t hundreds of venues where, if you chose, you could see the celebrity dropping them off at school, cheering them on at soccer, standing with them at a crosswalk.

A mom I know recently told me about pulling up to a restaurant in Beverly Hills, only to have five cars careen around the corner and block her path. A dozen people swarmed out from their cars and surged towards the restaurant, cameras clicking. One of the cars barely avoided hitting an elderly woman in the crosswalk. My friend waited to see who came out, not the least because the paparazzi had prevented her from parking her car. After a minute, Jessica Alba came out carrying her daughter. The cameramen rushed her and the baby as she raced to her car, the photographers in hot pursuit. After hearing this story, I went home and checked out a website dedicated to pictures of celebrities and their children. There was the picture of Jessica Alba running from the restaurant cradling her daughter looking harassed. People commented on the blog about how cute her baby looked and why wasn’t she ever smiling in pictures? They also noted you could buy the baby’s shoes at Stride-Rite.

We get more, we expect more. If we choose we can wear what they wear, eat where they eat, dress our children to resemble theirs and go to the same places they get their faces injected with plastic. But we’ll still be nothing more than a simulacrum and that ultimately isn’t enough. One buys the face-cream or the shoes or the evening-shorts and one is still not Anne Hathaway. Anne Hathaway is young and beautiful and has been in movies which made one happy and the sight of her face floods one's brain with endorphins, so when she wears evening-shorts with heels she only looks a little silly. But evening shorts on nearly every other woman on the planet would make her look like a gym-teacher who had a nervous breakdown and started teaching class in heels. Having not gotten the good feeling one was hoping for from dressing like a celebrity, one pages through next month's In Style which is happy to relate that Anne Hathaway is only Anne Hathaway because of a certain red lipstick. And it starts all over again.

I think some celebrity-followers won’t be completely happy until they’re allowed to eat someone famous. But not before they’d check In Style to see what cutlery Christina Applegate got for her new house.

My tires were rotated. I was free to go. I toyed with tossing In Style in the blue recycling bin outside. In the end, though, I left it for the next tire patient. In Style night signify everything which is wrong about society, but you can’t say it’s not diverting.

But I did tear out the page on Liv Tyler. I liked that lipgloss she recommended.


Blogger Unknown said...

I loved that you used simulacrum...
That's just Quinn being Quinn and no one else! :)

Peace - Rene

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Denise said...

Do you read the Fug Yourself: Because Fugly is the New Pretty? You could guest blog for them . . .

12:23 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I'm still LMAO!!! Quinn, you are too funny! I used to read InStyle when I got my hair colored. Now that I no longer colorize, I am sooooo out of touch with Hollywood! I thank you tremendously for catching me up in your hilarious "fashion".

5:03 PM  
Anonymous FurBabyMom said...

Quinn, once again you have me laughing out loud! The part about the red carpet, and the statement, "Were I to wear a boy’s blazer over a light summer dress, I’d look like a real-estate agent who had a nervous breakdown and started showing houses in her nightgown" had me in stitches! Another fun, insightful, and lol funny post! :)

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

This entry reminds me of M.T. Anderson's "Feed" a little bit, possibly for the idea of consumerism as a substitute for happiness or a cure for whatever ails a person: "buy this, buy that, be happy, be perfect."

Funny...and scary that there are people out there who really do ascribe to that sort of thinking.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Ahhhh, what a way to start my morning.

A cup of coffee, a cat on my lap, and a large dose of Quinn.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

As an In Style subscriber for years, I should be mad at you Quinn. You dissed my mag!

Still, I had to laugh. What you failed to mention is how often People magazine and In Style (owned by the same parent company) often contradict each other with fashion advice. What's silly in People is sophisticated in In Style. It's very funny.

I know all this because I spent too much time with both publications. Hey- someone has to try and save the industry!

What was the name of that lip gloss you mentioned?

7:11 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

"They love leather skirts in summer, which just sounds like a yeast-infection in the making to me."

Ah, my favorite line.

Not my favorite THING, mind you, but my very favorite line...

8:38 AM  
Blogger JohnO said...

I laugh, I cringe, I pretend never to have flatlined my brain with such tripe. A lie, to be sure. An all too common lie.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Funny that someone recommended the GFY girls to you, Quinn... I think I discovered that blog because of one of your posts, and now it's on my required-mindless-diversions list.

Bless the Fug Girls for warning us of the horrors of the formal short and strapless jumpsuit!

12:05 PM  
Blogger traybishop said...

"Were I to wear a boy’s blazer over a light summer dress, I’d look like a real-estate agent who had a nervous breakdown and started showing houses in her nightgown."
Brilliant! Hilarious as usual...

10:14 PM  
Anonymous big girls shorts said...

ohhh Quinn...

8:46 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

love at first "site." So glad Michele posted about your book on FB. My curiosity lead me to your blog and I'm so glad it did. I love to drink my coffee with a side hilarity and irreverence.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous dianar said...

I loved this post. More often than not I am sucked into InStyle thinking that it will improve my wardrobe, hairstyle, diet or the like only to be mildly put off by a "leather skirt in summer" type suggestion. But even when the fashion advice fails the magazine does entertain - in a mind numbing sort of way.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

I wonder, sometimes, if celebrities contemplate carrying waterpistols fully loaded with paint as they sprint around town, desperately trying to do some of the things the rest of us take for granted - like buying shoes for their children. I'm pretty sure I'd spray at least a few cameras before I got locked up.

12:53 PM  

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