Another question of journalistic integrity,
May 25, 2001 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Another question of journalistic integrity, however this time we were meant to notice. My question is, what was Michael Stipe's role in this ruse?
posted by Oddsea (8 comments total)
And to think that up till now, I was swallowing celebrity journalism whole. My innocence is shattered!
posted by dhartung at 9:51 AM on May 25, 2001

"Slowly, carefully, Tom Junod, ace reporter for Esquire magazine, poured his Coke into the half-empty Heinz ketchup bottle. He screwed the cap on and shook the bottle vigorously, mixing the ketchup and the Coke. Then he removed the cap, raised the bottle to his lips and started drinking.

"Mmmm mmmm good," he said, as the reddish-brown liquid dribbled from his lips.

His boss, David Granger, Esquire's editor in chief, watched Junod from across the table at the crowded Manhattan coffee shop. "Not bad," he said. He picked up a bright yellow plastic bottle of mustard, stuck the nozzle into his left nostril, leaned his head back and squeezed the bottle hard, making a deep snorting sound.

Well, actually that's not true. Junod didn't really drink ketchup and Granger didn't snort mustard. I made that up. Normally, I don't write disgusting fictitious anecdotes about real people but I'll make an exception for these guys. That's because Granger has just published Junod's fiction-larded profile of Michael Stipe, the lead singer of the rock band R.E.M. -- a profile that opens with Stipe sitting in a coffeehouse, scarfing down all the sugar in a sugar dispenser, then licking its metal top clean."

From Peter Carlson's exquisite Esquire evisceration in the Washington Post:
posted by sudama at 10:28 AM on May 25, 2001

When I lived in Athens, I heard from a friend of a friend who knew a girl that lived next door to Stipe (blah blah) that he was observed sitting in his backyard taking shots of vodka and then chasing it with spoons full of dirt...

I thought that was pretty funny. Untrue, I'm sure, but pretty funny.
posted by Wizzle at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2001

Whatever!, you'd think that when you read a news article (celebrity or not) it would be factual,.. or do we need to add a new group to fiction/non-fiction?! I, for one am a bit put-off...
posted by danger at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2001

Did Tom Junod write this about himself? Check out this.
posted by lowblow at 12:26 PM on May 25, 2001

Having profiled people for magazines myself, I thought Junod did an interesting thing when, in the words of Esquire's author's note for that story, "Stipe didn't much feel like being profiled." Oh, those fussy celebrities.

So why not just make things up? Especially when both author and magazine were completely up front about the story being "really about 50 percent true." And posted the reality on their web site.

50% true is probably as good a percentage (or even higher) as we get when we read any celebrity article. Or, to take another example, when we listened to anything Ronald Reagan said while in office.

Junod does good work. The only argument I have with him is that he considers Stipe "one of his rock 'n' roll heroes." Ugh. But if you can't say anything nice . . . .
posted by LeLiLo at 6:26 PM on May 25, 2001

If you're going to do this kind of thing right, accuse Walter Cronkite of spitting in your food.
posted by rcade at 9:14 PM on May 25, 2001

(What's the problem with being a "rock'n'roll hero"? You don't think REM is a rock'n'roll band?)
posted by rodii at 9:07 AM on May 26, 2001

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