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Magazine news for the week of April 20, 1990

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Bright Lights, Big Deal

Spy‘s April cover story, ”Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cad,” promises the final word on Jay McInerney bashing. But the indictment dictated by his estranged wife, Merry, is pretty lame. McInerney, it turns out, used to do drugs and became something of a playboy after the runaway success of Bright Lights, Big City (!). Furthermore, he often sent Merry out to fetch chocolate milk when he was hung over, and he hogged credit for ideas that were hers — including the hackneyed Coma Baby motif in BLBC. Leave the guy alone, magazine world. Nobody cares anymore. . . .Mark Crispin Miller’s piece in the April Atlantic, ”Hollywood: The Ad,” starts as a simple look at product placement in movies — for example, having a character blatantly drink a particular soft drink. Then it snowballs into an excellent omnidirectional diatribe on Hollywood’s recent output. Miller, a Johns Hopkins professor and author of the forthcoming book Seeing Through Movies, argues that the ”techniques and cartoon-like moral vision” of advertising have seeped into the movies (thanks to the takeover of Hollywood by ”purely quantitative. . .CEOs”) and have caused an overabundance of violence, hokiness, and aggressively happy endings: ”Today Rhett and Scarlett would patch things up and have a baby, Shane would come back, Charles Foster Kane would find his sled, Tom Joad would get to be a CEO, and Mildred Pierce would send her daughter out for counseling (and the two of them would end up in a freeze-frame, hugging).”

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