There is no journalist writing today whom I admire more than Ron Rosenbaum. But this week the guy’s driving me crazy, because in his otherwise excellent Slate column (“The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written?”) he lambastes an Angelina Jolie profile featured on the cover of Esquire’s July issue but withholds the name of the person who wrote it. This individual is neither a rape victim nor a minor nor an undercover CIA employee. Rosenbaum writes,
Before I begin quoting from this amazing essay, I would like to say that I don’t regard this piece as an attack on the writer (whose noncelebrity work I’ve often admired), but as an attempt to rescue him, to save him from further assignments of this nature. It’s a losing game: The desperate attempt to endow celebs with Deep Meaning is not worthy of his talent.
Rosenbaum’s reluctance to personalize his critique of the worst celebrity profile ever written achieved precisely the opposite of what he intended. By the end of Rosenbaum’s column I could barely follow his argument because I was in such a fever to know who could have laid this turd. The author turns out to be a journalist of long experience, a winner of two National Magazine Awards who has been nominated for 10. In other words, a very big boy. If he can’t endure harsh-but-thoughtful criticism from a respected colleague, I don’t know who can.
Before I state the Jolie profiler’s name, let me express mild worry that the Sopranos finale is begetting a cultural trend. Is it becoming fashionable to withhold crucial information? At the Academy Awards, will the presenters say, “And the winner for Best Picture is [blackout]”? On Amtrak’s northeast corridor, will the conductor say, “Now arriving at [stops speaking]”? Will my doctor tell me, “I’ve seen your test results, Mr. Noah, and they [phone line goes dead]”? Because I can’t live that way.
It’s Tom Junod.