PRINT September 1986



CERTAIN SONGS HAVE A KIND of hook that coaxes us into a hazily pleasurable looplike riff between nostalgia and futurology. Certain magazines have a kind of hook that couples a seemingly endless variety of sameness with a trashy veneer of the unbelievable. From The National Enquirer to its upscale relations People and Us, these publications emit a relentlessly ridiculous yet compelling rendition of information and its relationship to “celebrity.” This magazine format has also invaded television, emerging in the form of newslike presentations and life-style shows. The most persistently visible examples of the genre, and not coincidentally those with the biggest hooks and the most juice, are Entertainment Tonight and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which light up American homes with their baroquely unbridled reports from the end of the rainbow.

While Entertainment Tonight focuses on the

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