About: The editors of Us Magazine seemingly created this photography volume for the sole purpose of making the definitive cultural statement of their age. That is rarely a good idea, and it falls flat here. The text by David Wild is the problem. It’s dated in a way that the 1990s era photographs aren’t. Although limited to an introduction, his writing is so self-consciously important and self-indulgent that it’s embarrassing. No amount of evoking Let Us Now Praise Famous Men or You Have Seen Their Faces (with photography and text by, respectively, Walker Evans and James Agee/Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell) will magically elevate this book to their level. There’s nothing of intellectual substance here; it’s all empty, pithy-sounding word combinations. Skip the text and go straight to the photographs. You’ll thank me. The images are genuinely captivating, and do their job of capturing the transitory nature of celebrity as it was experienced in the late 20th century. That’s enough. Too bad the editors of Us Magazine didn’t realize that.
Motivation: My mom knows how much I like coffee table books, movies, pop culture, and photography. She found this book at a community sale for a dollar or two.
Times Read: 1
Random Excerpt/Page 12: The preceding anticommercial message comes to you directly from John Keats’ “Ode to a Grecian Urn”, written way back in 1819, a romantic, carefree era long before the fall of Communism and the rise of Courtney Love. At the risk of having my poetic license revoked, I would like to think if the old Keatster were still around putting quill to Powerbook he might forget about urns entirely and instead be penning “Ode to Mark Seliger’s Portrait of Drew Barrymore.”