Our Liz wonders — whither the New York Times?
“I ASKED the clothing store clerk if she had anything to make me look thinner and she said, ‘How about a week in Bangladesh?’” said a wisecracking Roseanne Barr.
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I WANT to complain bitterly about something. Maybe nobody cares but me, however, I consider myself to be an ardent fan of The New York Times, constantly correcting my overly-critical friends who think the nation’s premier newspaper has fallen on bad times.
I am forever boasting of its record, its dedication and the fact that it would be an enormous loss to this country should it ever change radically and maybe, go under. (The contrary is certainly the hope of Rupert Murdoch and his Wall Street Journal. But I want both of these great newspapers of record to thrive.)
Still, they are doing something in the Times on Sundays that is almost incomprehensible.
They have a column called “What I Wore,” a kind of diary of consumerism with actresses, models, social climbers and charitable women. Last Sunday, on December 4th, they featured an actress I really admire. She is Archie Panjabi, an Emmy-winning character on the successful series “The Good Wife.” As the character Kalinda, she is the deus ex machina of what happens in this legal drama, sleeping with men and women too in order to gain her ends — which are usually (but not always) good causes engaged in by her law firm.
Ms. Panjabi appeared in the Times pages in a beautiful dress by Carolina Herrera. I liked knowing what great designer she was wearing, as this is information we all need about a real art form, couture, and how the other half lives. I like to know who designed what.
But the newspaper article about a week in Ms. Panjabi’s life was absurdly ridiculous in its “fashionista” overkill. On Monday, she “wore J Brand dark boot-cut denim.” She boasted she has about ten pairs of them. Then she went on about her Vince oversize sweater, a black Neil Barrett wool and black Chanel boots. When I gave this article to my associate Denis Ferrara to read, he gagged and said it destroyed his remaining brain cells.
The rest of the week, Ms. Panjabi told us everything she was wearing every day, mentioning 55 separate clothing and design names plus a few restaurants. (What a treat for the unemployed and underpaid wannabees whose mouths were watering.)
Is it the Times way to dispatch advertising people to show retailers that they are mentioning them, or is it just left to Ms. Panjabi to make a fool of herself for doing it for them? Such an excess of consumerism and conspicuous consumption I have seldom seen. Or is it part of the Times editing way to try to completely identify every part of everything any of these celebrities wear? To give all the facts? Or news fit to print? (I am surprised they didn’t give the cost of the items and exactly where one could buy each and every item if only one had the means.)
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I HAVE done my share of touting favorite places, favorite people and favorite retail and wholesale “names” in the dozens of celebrity columns I have written over almost fifty years covering entertainment. But “What I Wore” is a nasty excess in these particular times. Maybe it’s just the Times point of view to create desire and envy and to show how superficial people can be. No wonder every kid you know wants to get in show business where the chance of becoming a millionaire is so appealing.
Maybe the Times will find some poor school teachers in the Bronx to tell us what they are wearing and how we can aspire to same.
Or maybe Ms. Panjabi’s press agent wrote this ridiculous piece of crap. She remains one of my favorite actors on television and perhaps she is not to blame for such excess.