Vanity Fair

I used to think Vanity Fair was People Magazine for the Upper West Side, but apparently they’re snarkier and more inventive than I thought. Inside the October 2006 issue of Vanity Fair is a fake flap you can attach to a copy of The Weekly Standard. Check it out.

Sadly, in order to get one of these, you have to buy the latest issue of Vanity Fair, which is the All Suri Cruise Edition (see, I was right – a highbrow People Magazine). I’d feel more than a little dirty buying such a thing. Maybe I can surreptitiously snag the insert from a newsstand copy. What other choice do I have?

My friend Mary took issue with my dis of VF, as she’s a subscriber. She cited the excellent photography and political articles, and these are valid points, but I think my objections are mainly that it very often covers the same topics as People magazine (Tom Cruises’ baby, Jennifer Aniston’s relationships, Angelina Jolie’s drama), but in a more artistic fashion, with better photography….however the covers are still invariably celebrities and the primary reason people buy it is to read about famous people.

They sneak in some legitimate journalism, though – and I’ve noticed that Rolling Stone has taken on a similar pattern: put Justin Timberlake on the cover, and maybe people will happen across the articles on Darfur and Iraq. I guess I can’t blame them; celebrity sells. I suppose I should be thankful that they even attempt to edify.

It’s interesting that both magazines took their names from works of social criticism. William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair was a satire on high society opportunism, and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” addresses a woman who has fallen from high social standing. And this month both magazines sport covers of two of the most vacuous idols of our society, Tom Cruise and Justin Timberlake, respectively.