The N-word: A Novel Interpretation

Consider this open letter by Steven Boone, a New York-based critic type, about the use of the word "nigga." He wrote it after CNN did a report on the "Abolish the N-Word Movement," which, as you’ve probably guessed, is less a movement than a small non-profit with dreams of changing the world through the strategic dissemination of ideologically correct T-shirts, mugs, baseball caps, and Lance Armstrong-ish...

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Noah Emmerich, Inaugural Movie Mook

One of my favorite moments in The Truman Show, which is one of my fav-o-rit-est movies of all the time, is toward the end, after Ed Harris’s megalomaniacal producer-father-God character realizes that his creation, Truman, can’t be found. Marlon, the best friend character played by Noah Emmerich, is sent over to Truman’s house to try to rustle him up. The entire existence of the show which pays Marlon’s salary...

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Great Movie Assholes

I thought I’d follow up on yesterday’s post, on the movie mook, with a bit of work on the movie asshole (yesterday I called him a "movie dick," but I’ve been persuaded that "movie asshole" has the greater claim to legitimacy). The “movie asshole” just to clarify, isn’t synonymous with “the villain.” The movie asshole isn’t evil. He’s not trying to kill the...

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it's okay to look

I just added this dude to my MySpace friend list (hey dude), went to his page to see what his dealie yo was, and was mesmerized by the little slide-show hooskerdew he created for the page. I realize that it’s just a slide show, plus captions, and that there are people out there who’ve integrated their PDAs into their phones into their iPods into their credit cards, etc, but still, I was just fascinated by it. And...

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Steve Jobs is a visionary of commerce, not justice

I’ve been watching the speech in which Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone, and while I think it’s an awful neat phone, and Steve Jobs is an awfully impressive entrepreneur, my strongest impression is one of revulsion. Don’t get me wrong: the phone is beautiful, and I’ve already placed an order. It’s the adulation and joy coming from audience, as if the introduction of an awfully neat phone is a cause for...

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Perez Hilton is a moron

Consider this excerpt from an article about Mario Lavandeira, the man behind celebrity gossip mega-site PerezHilton.com: "Even though what I’m doing can be harsh at times or biting or cynical … in my own subservient way I am trying to make the world a better place," he said. "I will push the envelope. I’m not afraid to offend or be dangerous, whatever. Because I can. It’s my Web site. I can do...

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I feel sorry for Paris Hilton

No, really, I do. And not in that insincere way that people say it when what they’re really trying to say that is that they dislike the person intensely and think that they can hurt them by suggesting that they’re an object of pity. I was reading this summary of what was found, and is now being sold, from a storage locker that she forgot to pay the dues on and therefore forfeited ownership of, and it ain’t a pretty...

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All Apologies

I apologize for the interregnum of the past week or so. I’m suffering from a horrible case of writer’s block, perhaps the first case that I’ve been able to identify as such while actually in the midst of being blocked. It’s horrible. Not starving horrible, or leprosy horrible, or even swollen ankle horrible–well, maybe swollen ankle horrible, depending on how long it is before the swelling...

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Naked State of the Union

The Naked State of the Union, in case you haven’t seen it yet, is the latest nudity-dependent stunt from the good people at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It’s kind of brilliant. You go to the website, and you see a very attractive woman who promises to take her clothes off. The catch is that she takes her clothes off very slowly, and so if you want to see her completely naked (which you do), you have...

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Now that's film criticism

I’m not sure that I’m actually all that interested in what ‘s being said in this dialogue between film critics Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich. They care much more than I do, for instance, about whether directors are using film or video to shoot (to be fair, they’re mostly trying to clear away the deadwood, arguing that critics have been approaching the question from the wrong direction, but still,...

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Anna Nicole Smith has died

As you may know already, Anna Nicole Smith died today. Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that she died of an overdose. Anyway, I was just watching a little “YouTube Retrospective” that AOL put together for its story on her death, and it reminded me that she was once an object of desire rather than an object of scorn and pity. It’s easy to forget, now that we know the sad end of the story, but...

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Newsflash! Rudy Giuliani is not to be trusted

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I moonlight as a self-employed, self-publishing political pundit (i.e. I write a lot of letters to people who don’t respond to me). I wrote, for instance, what I’m pretty sure is the only letter the New York Times Book Review has ever received that refers to one of its reviewers (in this case, Leon Wieseltier) as a "sententious cock-gobbler." Shockingly,...

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A is for Alba

We’re going to try something new this week here at the Dear Dexter Theme Time Hour, and we’re calling it the Encyclopedia of American Celebrity Project (EACP for short, though I’m not sure it’s actually that much easier to say "the EACP" than to say the Encyclopedia of American Celebrity Project; we need a nickname, really, but I’ll let it emerge organically).The point of the EnAmCel Project...

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Christina Ricci used to be chunky slutty hot, and now she's something else

Christina Ricci used to be one of the prime examples of a type that an old college buddy of mine famously dubbed "chunky slutty hot." The chunky slutty hot girl was, as the name suggests, both chunky and slutty and hot (technically, I don’t think the rules of American English syntax allow for anything to be "both" three things, but fuck those rules — we’re keepin’ it street today). Drew...

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Unchained melody

Just to throw some more fuel on the Christina Ricci fire, enjoy both this picture of her looking quite stunning, and quite unchained, next to her former fictional captor, Sir Samuel L. Jackson (somebody’s knighted him already, right?), as well as this fictional dialogue that the ladies at Go Fug Yourself imagined between the two celebrities. SAMUEL L.: So listen up, here, Ricci. I’m going to tell it like it motherf***ing...

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B is for Beck

In yesterday’s inaugural entry into the Encyclopedia of American Celebrity Project (or EnAmCel, as we like to say as of yesterday), I mused on the physical luminescence of Jessica "A is for" Alba. Today we deal with "B is for" Beck (Hansen), perhaps the pop music world’s reigning genius, certainly the world’s hippest Scientologist, and arguably the most influential re-imaginer of himself in puppet...

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C is for Cameron

Another day, another entry in EnAmCel.C is for Cameron (Diaz, that is, not Cam’ron, who, though he’s done some important work on behalf of the apostrophe, isn’t quite EnAmCel-worthy yet) The seminal image in Cameron Diaz’s ouevre is of her petrified shock of hair in There’s Something About Mary. She takes Ben Stiller’s uncooperative jizzulation—which is the most literal possible manifestation...

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Contemplating Alicia

Let us consider the curious case of Alicia Silverstone, an under-theorized figure on the celebrity landscape. Silverstone’s first movie break was 1993’s The Crush, in which she played a sexually and intellectually precocious teenager who almost but not quite seduced her much older neighbor and then wreaked havoc on his life for the unforgivable crime of refusing to bonk her. It was basically the role that Drew Barrymore...

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D is for bob Dylan absolutely Destroying Donovan

I’m talkin’, of course, ‘bout the sing-off scene in the hotel room in Don’t Look Back, D.A. Pennebakers classic documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England (I’m talkin’ ‘bout the ’60s man, therefore I’m goin’ to have to apostrophize to excess, ya dig).The two men, who the film has done a bit to set up as possible rivals, finally meet each other, and Dylan, in a...

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E is for Earvin

So this is the question I find myself asking myself on this balmy March afternoon: What is the cultural significance of Earvin "Magic" Johnson? (If it surprises you that I entertain myself, on balmy March afternoons, asking myself questions about the cultural significance of 6’9” former NBA stars who contracted HIV and went on to build movie theaters and Starbucks in the ‘hood, then you obviously...

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F is for Fire, the

As I’ve been saying for some time now, the Time of the Troubles is coming, and the anxiety’s starting to percolate down even to the circuits of the machine of mass culture whose mission is to keep us placid and stupid so that when the Gilead attempts its coup, we’ll stay in our houses and watch re-runs of The Family Guy instead of taking to the streets and demanding the representative government we were promised in...

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G is for Gigli

We take up the peculiar tale of Ben Affleck after Gigli, his ill-fated but curiously alluring 2003 lesbian hitman romantic comedy buddy comedy epic with the diva god-dess Jennifer Lopez. His next movie, Paycheck, was surprisingly good. Not Good Will Hunting-good or Dazed & Confused-good, but considerably better than your average science fiction thriller in which a man’s memory is wiped clean and he’s forced to race...

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A is for American Music Awards

I’m breaking my alphabetical inclination today because I’m really happy with this entry, which is distilled from an old column. It has something wonderfully efficient about it (if I do so say myself, which I do).A is for American Music AwardsCreated in 1973 by Dick Clark, the sad puppet given life by the Music-Industrial Complex, the AMAs are the Shemp of the music awards industry—you know they exist, but you’re...

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H is for Halle Berry

It says something about me, I suppose, that the image that almost always pops into my head whenever someone says the magic words “Halle Berry” is the one from the classic 2001 cyber/anti-terrorist/kidnapping/deadbeat dad redemption thriller Swordfish. You know the shot I’m talking about – the one where Berry interrupts her topless poolside reading (presumably it was something by Po Bronson, or perhaps an Alice...

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I is for Ice Cube

Some note of grace went out of the world when O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson traded in his thug bandana and AK-47 for some clippers and a barber shop shirt with the name “Calvin” stitched in its breast pocket. Calvin can cut a mean fade, and Calvin can make his shop the heart of a working class black community in Chicago that also welcomes well-meaning white people as black hair-cutting barbers and forms...

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I is for Isaac

I don’t think I like Isaac Mizrahi very much. This is a sad thing for me because there was a time when I thought that I liked him very much (insofar as you can like someone you only know through the television and an occasional magazine profile). He was funny. He was unapologetically gay and unapologetically fabulous. He liked Gingham patterns more than was probably healthy. He brought good design to the masses in his line for...

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J is for Jenny from the Block

I have a number of recurring nightmares, most of which are the typical ones — the teeth falling out dream, the dream where I’m in college and it’s the end of the semester and I suddenly realize that I have a final for a class that I’ve forgotten to attend for the past few months, the one where a large Estonian woman is chasing me with a big black garbage bag and screaming out "Arbeit macht frei....

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In Defense of K is for K-Fed

Consider this: Kevin Federline is judged harshly because he’s gotten famous not for anything he’s accomplished but because of different reasons all together. His soon-to-be wife, too, is judged harshly because her fame, though not wholly unearned, seems manufactured (her mediocre voice is made-over in the studio, her songs are written for her, and she doesn’t even seem to be quite savvy enough to have negotiated so...

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L is for Luther, L is for Love

I wouldn’t have been so direct about this last year, because I’m a coward, but now that he’s dead (and you can’t be sued by a dead person), I’ll just say it: Luther Vandross was gay. Or, as The New York Times put it in their obituary, “While in high school, Mr. Vandross developed an affinity for the legendary Motown label’s all-female acts, and for the gospel-soul sounds of artists like Aretha...

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M is for Alex P. Keaton

I knew there was a reason I liked Michael J. Fox (aside, that is, from his winning smile, his ability to go back in time to turn his loser parents into obnoxious yuppies, and that time when I was trying to cut back on my fossil fuel consumption when he loaned me his hybrid gas-electric lawn mower). It’s ‘cause he tells stories like this one, from his memoir Lucky Man, about the opening night of Doc Hollywood, the movie...

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N is for Neve Campbell

Exhibit N in my continuing investigation of the repressed sexuality of American cinema is Neve Campbell, one of the more naturally sensual actresses of her generation and also, as we remember from her teasing moments of near-nudity in Scream and Wild Things, one of the least exhibitionistic. Campbell, whose refusal to get naked has surely cost her some measure of fame and money, is a much more interesting case than, say, her old Party...

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O is for Oprah

There’s really only one interesting question when it comes to Oprah Winfrey, whose record of accomplishment is so extraordinary and whose past is so morally unblemished that even Kitty Kelley, perhaps our nation’s most resourceful scandal-mongering biographer, was forced to admit to the Washington Post, a few months into researching her biography of Winfrey, that the book is shaping up to be about “hope and promise...

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P is for Sean (P)(.)(uff)(d)(a/i)(dd)(y) Combs

I met Puffy once, briefly, in the V.I.P room of a club in Ibiza. We were both drenched in the hallucinogenic purple foam with which the club’s spirit team had just hosed down the partying masses. I was—to be Frank—tripping my balls off, so when I say that Puffy had a ring-tailed lemur named Frank perched on his shoulder, you may want to take it with a grain of salt. I know it was him, though, and not just because he...

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Q is for Le Q

It’s indicative of the surprising paucity of our idea of Quincy Jones that the definitive profile of him is the rather short review of his autobiography, “Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones,” that Kelefa Sanneh published in the New Yorker in 2001. Sanneh writes: Everyone knows Quincy Jones’s name, even if no one is quite sure what he does. Jones got his start in the late nineteen-forties as a trumpeter, but...

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P is for Paris: Update

Many moons ago, I wrote a short post in which I explained why my dominant reaction regarding Paris Hilton had transmogrified from contempt to pity. The tipping point came when the contents of a storage locker she’d failed tokeep up the payments on was bought and then auctioned off. I wrote: The kicker, for me, was the pictures of her with Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis. He’s pulled aside her bikini top to expose her...

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