You know, I love being surprised. Not in a horror movie, piss-in-you-pants way, but in that pleasant manner in which you cock your head and think, "Huh."
I've been receiving "Elle" for about four months now, and I'm not sure why. I've racked my brain, trying to figure out who can hate me so much as to subject me to the monthly doses of body loathing and expendable-income envy. Being a journalist, though, I do the courteous thing and give the lady mag an obligatory read-through, but inevitably, I'm irritated by the frivolous content, violated by the eye-raping layout design (it reminds me of photo collages I created in middle school), and am thus moved to throw the entire thing into a giant bonfire of vanities.
When I saw the new issue on my counter, I had half a mind just to toss it into the recycling bin, but I convinced myself to at least give it a fighting chance. I nearly stopped at the beginning, as I was accosted by horrendous fashion spreads, sporting the fugliest outfits inspired by bikers and metal bands, and stupid-huge bills attached to pieces (I mean, seriously, nearly $5000 for what is essentially a sparkly tube dress?!) Amazingly, I trudged through the drivel and found myself blinking in astonishment at what lay beyond. Huh.
I was treated to some insightful reviews and now have a list of movies that I simply need to see, including "Away We Go" and "The Apple," books that are must-reads, and TV shows that I will avoid like the leprosy. Ell also reminded me of my quest for the perfect red lipstick and gave me a little history lesson, as well. Did you know that the first wax-based tube lipstick came out in 1870? And that Elizabeth Arden gave out red lipstick for women participating in the suffrage marches of the 1910s?
But most of all, I was impressed with the quality of the interviews. Karen Schoener's coverage of Atlantic Records' Julie Greenwald perfectly summed up the attitude required to save the flailing music industry, and I love the imagery of a powerful, yet nurturing woman (who has pics of her kids on her walls, instead of celebs) who has guys like P. Diddy calling her the "coolest white Jewish chick in history." Oh, you stay classy, Diddy.
The article on street-lit author Miasha was eye-opening and shows that there is a weird segregation between business and African Americans. It's almost like the bigwigs forget that the black community exists until something sells well, like when the popular Zane came onto the scene. And then the cultural critics jump over themselves, blaming the literary outlet as a reason for an entire race's "situation." Now, the glamorization of drug and gang culture is another topic entirely - one that I'm not going to tackle right now because it would make this waaaay too long - but I will admit that reading Miasha's perspective on this makes me appreciate (not like, mind you) "ghetto fiction."
I'm not too ridiculously into Gwen Stefani, this issue's cover girl, but the story on her had me liking the down-to-earth vibe she was giving off. The fact that someone so beautiful couldn't believe a guy was into her is very reassuring, even if she did steal Gavin Rossdale from what could have been wedded bliss with me. I've moved on, of course, and I have forgiven.
Now, the women-in-music section got me a little annoyed, but that's only becase the editors included Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga*, but not Beth Ditto, who I've come to adore, or Chrissy Hynde. To their credit, though, they did have Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Joan Jett and Kid Sister. But my ultimate girl-crush, Jennifer Hudson, had me saying, "Squeeee!" I am just in awe of her faith and could literally stare at the featured photo shoot for hours. Gorgeous woman, inside and out, and her interview just made me love her all the more.
I skipped the last ten pages or so of oddly posed models and a Q&A with Bret Michaels (um, no, thanks), but the whole experience left me scratching my head. WTF just happened? Was I really just intellectually stimulated by "Elle?" Huh.
Now, is it too much to expect a similar follow-up? A sequel of quality, if you will? Yeah, I'm not banking on it.
* The part where she says that American Idol was "all about the art" when setting up for her recent appearance, I nearly screamed. I just don't get the fascination with this woman, and I really wish people would just stop giving her a platform. Ick.