Spy magazine was one of the publications I loved with a passion...but always worried about its ways at the same time. It is like a great love that makes you wonder if it is all too good to be true, or is there some sort of hidden flaw that will get exposed and corrupted, ruining everything you cherished.
I loved Spy, but like all great loves, it was met with parental disapproval. My mother could not understand what a nice girl like me saw in such a nasty publication. Not that she didn't think the people who got roasted in it didn't deserve it, but somehow, she thought Spy was just cruel in the wrong ways.
Spy was jealous at its core, she said, but she agreed that when it came to asking the hard questions that exposed those blowhards and grifters it relentlessly picked on, the pickings were slim, as in, it was the only game in town. Spy magazine was like Wonder Woman -- it truly wasn't any of the good, groundbreaking, progressive, and noble stuff it proclaimed to be, but as there wasn't any alternative out there that truly was, you took what you could get, and it got your love and admiration for at least drawing attention to those qualities.
Humans settle, and then try to justify their settling, building things up, and setting a bar both too high and too low at the same time.
But I always wondered if Spy magazine would become what it hated because on some level, it was jealousy and not truth that guided it. Spy folded before that question ever got answered.
But for its co-founders E. Graydon Carter, the answer seems to be yes. After he ran away from Spy, he eventually jumped into the arms of Vanity Fair and became its editor.
Vanity Fair was all about applauding limousine liberalism as it paraded starlets who had to endure the Harvey Weinsteins to get there. All the pretty and rich white people in Hollywood had their free advertising in those pages, but there were at least some think pieces from the old liberal white men to make it readable. It was not progressive, but it had a patina of youthful beauty and seasoned old wisdom to seem like it was the package deal.
It was still more readable than most of the other magazine offerings in its day -- if you could stomach the arrogance and obliviousness of it. It had gall and chutzpah, but like the Fox News Channel, it had first-rate production qualities that allowed things to slide because it was so pretty on the outside.
Carter eventually ran away from that rag, too, just in the nick of time when its coolness factor was one step away from being revoked by reality.
And now, according to the Daily Beast, he wants to run back on stage:
Ex-Vanity Fair Editor and Trump Nemesis Graydon Carter Plots Comeback
From the South of France, one of America’s legendary magazine editors thinks about a return to media with the same people who invested in Vice.
Oh, this is rich.
Yes, from the South of France! With the investors who got played and sank money in the sexist propaganda outlet Vice.
How very wonderful.
Just to get back at Donald Trump? The same target of jealousy Spy went after, what, decades ago?
Some limousine liberal can't let go of a grudge.
Spy failed to destroy Trump.
Vanity Fair became a bygone relic of a world most of the planet would never see, and in #MeToo, discover they wouldn't want, either.
Carter became someone who in another time and place, would have been torn to pieces in the pages of Spy: some uppity geezer whining as he is sipping his champagne about some other old geezer who has more money and power than he does, and he decides to furiously plot his inexplicable enemy's downfall from the rich part of a foreign country by courting people with money who either funded trash like Vice -- or sank money in a losing outlet, such as Univision -- the same people who thought acquiring mindless life-sink site The Onion was a good idea.
How the mighty have faded away to become media lounge lizards.
My younger self would have been very disappointed that her worst fears came true, and that her mother's assessment of the whole jealousy thing was probably right...