I’ve finally reached a crossroads with something that’s been building for years.
I’ve been subscribing to EW (that’s the ‘hip’ way to refer to it – another example of the coolness of abbreviating in our culture nowadays) for a long time now. I remember when I first stumbled onto EW back when it first came out. One of the first issues I read was about this new gangster flick by Martin Scorsese in 1990. This seemed like a pretty cool magazine.
Around that time there seemed to be a lot of ‘entertainment’ magazines that were popping up. Some were good, others bad. Most of them crashed and burned, others moved their content to the online world. EW stuck around.
So I’ve been reading this mag for a good amount of time. Finally after being faced with yet another subscription renewal I was forced to take a step back and really evaluate this magazine.
With the vehement advice from a friend who has been trying to shake me out of the loyalty I feel towards EW for a very long time – this time it basically came down to a warped intervention of sorts – I’m finally forced to admit it – Entertainment Weekly sucks.
This has been growing for a long, long time. I get EW now and peruse it once – peruse it, not actually read it anymore – and then toss it. There was a time when I actually enjoyed this mag. I looked forward to getting it. I even kept some of the articles I liked. It actually had stuff in it I saved or shared with friends.
They had some decent cover stories, on set reports from films, interesting interviews with actors. I remember they did one surprisingly long account of the notorious stinker of a film Manos: Hands of Fate and told the story of how it came to be. I couldn’t believe they spent so many pages on this obscure movie that’s considered one of the worst movies ever made and it was a fascinating article.
That doesn’t happen anymore. Through the years EW has really started to decline.
The layout gradually changed through the years and not for the better. EW actually used to have some worthwhile content to read. Now it’s become a superficial Hollwood rag that seems to focus on photos of celebrities, quick sound bites and terrible humor. It’s gone the way of the TMZ route and actual reporting and journalism is practically non-existent in its pages.
I’m going to try to list some of the crap that fills the magazine now. It’s basically all the stuff that I flip past and don’t bother reading (which is practically the whole magazine).
The mag usually opens with the EW editor Jess Cagle writing about something. It usually seems like he’s saying what a swell issue you’re about to read is going to be. Yawn fest.
This guy might be one of the main culprits of the downward spiral EW took. I’m not sure though. I just know I flip past whatever he has to say without hesitation. It’s telling that the editor of the magazine can’t get me compelled enough to read an article written by himself and he’s in charge of putting together this entire mag.
It seems the norm now is that EW will almost always feature a page of some ‘EW event’ or promotion of something or another under their banner in the first few pages. I see pictures of celebrities at some kind of EW party all yuking it up. No idea what that is.
One recent issue I saw they used a page to promote their satellite radio channel, along with their website naturally. I can’t imagine what that radio channel is like. They can’t come up with enough content to fill one magazine page and they have a twenty-four hour radio network???
An entire wasted page of quotes of the week from tv shows, celebrities, talk show hosts follows. It takes less than a minute to gloss over and I never take away anything away from it.
This is an example of the ‘soundbite’ approach EW takes now. It doesn’t take much effort to read and there’s really nothing interesting or amusing about any of it. I guess it gives them a nice opportunity to get a lot of celebrity faces on one page and it certainly doesn’t take much energy to write.
We come to ‘The Must List’ which is meant to be the ‘Top Ten Things We Love This Week’. Everyone loves to read lists. I think it makes them feel like they’re getting a lot of information and it’s all nicely broken down for them numerically so they can easily keep track of it all. The numbers getting higher makes them feel like they’re making progress.
Again, it’s little blurbs a movie or book or whatever. It’s played pretty straight forward and no forced humor or lame jokes are crowbarred in here. But still, it might take you a minute or two to get through it. It’s not a real challenging read and there’s very little chance of you getting lost.
Interspersed in their ‘News And Notes’ is the ‘Hit List’. By the way, ‘The News And Notes’ occasionally will have something worth stopping and reading, but very rarely nowadays. I shouldn’t call it a ‘write-up’, I don’t know what you would call it. It’s more like a sentence. A sentence worth of news. And this is supposedly what this mag does – ‘entertainment news’)
Anyway, it was about Charlie Hunnam pulling out of The Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Hmmm, sounds like something could be written for this. Popular book, people interested in this movie. What does this guy leaving the role mean for the movie, will this delay things, what do some Hollywood insiders think of this decision?
Nope, no kind of reporting or follow up on this story. We are however treated to pictures of actors from past films that were replaced with other actors. Meaningless blurbs, soundbites and pictures – the norm for Entertainment Weekly today.
So ‘The Hit List’. This is supposed to provide a little newsworthy blurb, with a healthy dose of humor to leave us giggling. It also comes in the form of another list that will make it much easier to read! There has to be a study out there as to why readers are drawn to reading lists. They’re all over the place now. Is it the format that makes it more pleasing to read or something?
This Hit List is so painful and frustrating to read. They’re basically again short soundbites of a news story. Literally these things could be captions to a photo.
The worst however is the added joke that follows underneath each one. I never read the unfunny one-liner because they get me so angry, I’ll stop after the little actual news content before the awful joke can reach my line of vision.
And you can see just reading that bold black news blurb really doesn’t take too long. I should time myself as to how long it takes me to gather the actual ‘entertainment information’ from this friggin’ Hit List.
Back in the day EW never tried to be funny like this. There were actual journalistic writing going on and no piping in to add comedy to this crap. And these writers….being funny is not their forte.
Actually it doesn’t seem like they’re very good at reporting on entertainment news either. I don’t know what they’re doing in those offices during the week. Maybe just hanging out, looking at funny pictures, working on photoshop and thinking up funny captions. It probably really is like that TMZ show!
And this also goes for this stupid ass ‘The Shaw Report’ too! This is a box with the categories – ‘In’, ‘5 Minutes Ago’ and ‘Out’. This was the most recent one I read:
“IN – Curiosity over Scott Eastwood / 5 MINUTES AGO – Derision for Clint Eastwood / OUT – Mrs. Eastwood & Company
What the hell is this? Is it meant to be funny or insightful? It’s a waste of space and everyone’s time. And I painfully remind myself that people get paid for writing this junk.
Blah, blah, blah more worthless content. They throw us the celebs who got engaged, split, died, birthdays. I really don’t care how old Ryan Reynolds is. I really don’t! Seriously this is the junk I’ll read in People or Us when I’m forced to read it. Usually that only happens when I’m stuck in the barber shop and there’s nothing to read other than a three month old issue of People.
The cover story can be hit or miss. This is the spot where it appears the only time a reporter actually went out and did some work, did some research, talked with people and wrote an actual article. Lately I haven’t even been reading these since I simply don’t care about their selected cover stories. I suppose they think the general audience does, but I’m not in that demographic I guess.
The best article I can remember reading recently was an excerpt from a book written by Johnny Carson’s lawyer who’s now ready to tell some behind the scenes stories of Johnny.
An excerpt from a book….that’s been the highlight this magazine has given me in the last several months. It’s not even an article they came up with. They should be ashamed of themselves.
This past week was a reunions issue and I breezed right through it. I really don’t care about them reuniting the cast of Mystic Pizza, School of Rock and Boy Meets World. Maybe I’ll go back through it again and take the time to read a few of the reunions, but I’m not going to regret it if I don’t get the chance to. It sure seems like they love featuring full page pictures that accompany this feature though.
And that’s another thing I’ve noticed over the years with Entertainment Weekly – their double-sized issues. A double-sized issue is meant to be so enticing! It’s going to be bigger with a lot more pages and information. Well, it’s going to be bigger, but that usually just means they’re going to throw in more pictures and more lists.
Their big Oscar issues simply do that mundane wardrobe garbage with pictures of actresses in their gowns. Special issues like lists of greatest movies is exactly that – the bulk of the mag is dedicated to lists and lists and lists. I’m sure the list-lovers enjoy it.
I wouldn’t even mind if they made up crazy lists that I thought were completely wacked out and disagreed with every entry….if they added some content to each selection other than their trusty little, short, banal blurbs before they move onto the next number.
Plus, they’ve been doing these collector covers more and more through the years. Does anyone actually care about this swill? Do people actually collect them? I know TV Guide has it’s share of collectors through the years, but Entertainment Weekly?
“We just couldn’t decide on our favorite Catching Fire cover so we published all four! Which one is your favorite?” The short answer – none. Screw you and your multiple covers.
Entertainment Weekly movie reviews I was never a fan of. The thing that really annoyed me to no end through the years was Lisa Schwarzbaum or as I always referred to her as ‘The Queen of Run-On Sentences’. If you don’t know what I’m talking about just read one of her reviews. Better yet, don’t bother. She departed EW awhile back, so wherever she is I’m sure she’s still going comma crazy.
Ok, I’m spending way too long on this crap so I’m going to speed things up. The TV, Music, Stage sections I never cared about and rarely would even read them. I suspect they’re pretty much the same as the rest of the mag.
The What To Watch Page is another section that drives me crazy. It really shouldn’t be that hard. Simply list some television shows of the week you recommend to readers. TV Guide has been doing this for hundreds of years! Of course EW can’t just point their readers to some shows, they have to demonstrate their knee-slapping wit that is insufferably eye-rolling.
Here’s one random little listing for The Thanksgiving House on the Hallmark channel. They list the date and time it will air. They include a little picture of Lindsay Wagner and this is what they have to say about it: “Lindsay Wagner stars in a TV movie that is, sadly, not about a bionic Thanksgiving.”
You get it? They’re making a reference to the old television show she starred in forty years ago! My sides are hurting. Oh wait, are they recommending this movie? Are they saying I should watch it, avoid it, that this is a really bad film or that I should check it out but not expect that she’s going to play Jamie Sommers in it?
And by the way Wagner is not even the star of that flick. You know how I know that? I researched it! There I just gave you more accurate and worthwhile information about this movie than friggin’ EW! Well, ok they gave you the date and time it airs. They didn’t muck that part up.
We end on the final page with the famous hilarity of the Bullseye! This is meant to look at “pop culture news that was right on target this week – and the events that missed the mark“. And please remember – people actually earn money putting this insipid rubbish together.
What a meaningless page this is. Stupid jokes and references to entertainers and celebrities who I have zero interest in. There’s typically a pattern with his nonsense. They’ll usually include either a ‘hot guy’ or a ‘hot girl’ and a sizzling comment about the picture is made. Like they’ll have a picture of the dude who plays Green Arrow with his shirt off and they’ll say something like “here’s six reasons why we love to watch Green Arrow”. Very clever.
Then they’ll go the opposite route with someone wearing a bad dress or something and they’ll make a snarky comment. The placement of this trivial bunk around the page is supposed to signify how ‘in’ they are or whatever. Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, you know whatever big names that are current at the moment.
I really don’t care about these people no matter how many times they drop their names. They always seem to give a lot of love to Tina Fey with whatever she’s doing for some reason.
Back in the day the final page of EW used to be reserved for a ‘look back’ at something in entertainment history. They would mark the anniversary of some film or TV show that debuted thirty years earlier and do a write up about it, the impact it made and its significance in entertainment history. This ‘Bullseye’ is just the opposite. Disposable baloney that has a shelf life of a few days and no one will care or remember it by the time the next paltry issue comes out.
So there’s my rant about Entertainment Weekly. I’m truly embarrassed that I’ve stayed on this boat for so long. If it wasn’t for my friend repeatedly trying to convince me that it was garbage and to ditch it I probably would have continued getting it. Finally his loud pleas awoke me out of my hazy commitment to this rag and I see what utter trash it truly is.
I guess I just got used to it and it became routine to pick up and flip through its pages through the years. I was blinded by the ‘good old days’ where it had actual content and I enjoyed reading it. Maybe I kept rationalizing that it was still the same magazine. It has the same name and stuff.
But in reality, Entertainment Weekly morphed into something else a long time ago. Plus, I always liked getting something in the mail other than bills, but now a Netflix disc will have to be the only thing to break up that pile of ‘payment due’ envelopes in the mailbox. I have a few more issues of EW to get before my subscription is up and I’m proudly saying I’m cutting ties with it. This should have happened years ago.
So since I’m going to need to get a fix of actual entertainment news I’m open to alternatives. Whether it be a quality magazine or a web site that provides actual content to movie fans with news about upcoming films, has interviews, provides information about the world of film. I’m open to suggestions.
Just as long as it doesn’t consist of endless lists and feeble attempts at humor.