December 2009 Archives

Jessica Simpson: A Fading Star


Vanity Fair presents a brutally honest feature on Jessica Simpson in their June 2009 issue, covering every controversy of the pop star's last decade in the media spotlight. The magazine defines Simpson's popularity as at "the crossroads of Obscurity and Re-invention". 

The feature finds more entertainment in Jessica's personal troubles than her music career.   I would say the article is a personality profile, since the journalist interviewing Simpson exposes more about the celebrity apart from her music.  He inflects his own opinion of her so the reader is better able to understand Simpson as a person--not performer. 


The surprise of the feature is that for the most part, it is largely unflattering to Simpson's credit as a singer or a human being.  Everything from her weight, dating life, and a failed movie career are targets to criticism. 


 Simpson acknowledges that she feared her personal life was outshining her career. Tommy Mattola, head of Sony Music, advised Simpson to take a new direction.  


"I think she absolutely needs to re-invent herself," said Mottola.


Mattola was first to sign Simpson to a major-label record deal.  Since then she's taken his advice and the former pop princess embraced her inner Texan when she released her first country album last April.


But the album release couldn't hide the "danger signs" that Simpson's star could be burning out.  The singer's album sales have been decreasing since 2003.  Simpson acknowledged she has always been fighting to compete with the top female pop stars, calling herself the "Hardeez" of the industry in comparison to big name  "Burger King" Britney.


The feature is most interesting perhaps in the information it lacks.  It makes little mention of why Simpson merits her own profile.  There is mention of her recent album, but that's overshadowed by the constant criticism of her failures. The journalist finds Simpson's pretty face and personal life more interesting than her music, and isn't shy to say it's why she appeals to the reader, too.


The Facebook Farming Craze



The Atlantic reports that if you're a Facebook user, chances are you've heard of "farming" on the social networking site. 


The trend story credits "Farmville", a virtual farming simulation, as "the most popular game on Facebook".  Players can create their own farm and plant crops in hopes of achieving healthier fields, bigger buildings, and decorations. 



Interest in this genre of fake "farming" started in 1996 with the introduction of the successful Harvest Moon series from Super Nintendo.  Even Harvest Moon representatives were surprised by the game's popularity.


"The game consisted of mostly simple, repetitive tasks and a lot of waiting," the representatives said.  "For some reason, gamers really wanted to do this."


While the farm animals and vegetables in Farmville are virtual, the money is very real.  The most interesting aspect of the feature is the fact that the Farmville application generates a sizeable amount of income.


Players are willing to pay real currency in hopes of improving their farms and advancing in the game. Zynga reported the transactions from Farmville gamers made up a third of their annual income.


The structure of the article is particularly efficient in that it relies heavily on visual graphics to help the reader understand the topic.  There's a freeze-frame photo from a typical farm in Farmville below the heading and a pop-out quote mid-feature that offers a better understanding of why people would pay for a product only available in a virtual world. 

Mother Escapes From Sinking Car



Esquire features an interesting article in the July issue of one woman's first-person account of nearly drowning in her car. 


The woman is Colette Deusing, a 51-year-old wife and mother of a son.  Deusing retells her misfortune of going out on an errand last April only to find herself trapped underwater in her car after she ignored blocked roadway signs.


What makes Deusing's brush with death interesting is her use of comedy in her storytelling.  She describes the way her silver Chrysler Sebring "went down like the Titanic" as water filled her car.  Still, Deusing describes the terror she felt when she couldn't open her windows or doors.


"I thought of my son and my husband," she said.  "I thought about how I'd never see them again."


By the time a man finally noticed and reached Duesing's car, the front was "completely submerged".  The man used a sharp object to create a hole in the convertible top large enough for Deusing to escape. 


This article is a personal narrative because it is a first person account of one person's bout with disaster.  This feature form is the best way for Deusing to recreate the drama of what it might feel like to be trapped in a car underwater. 


I found the most unique aspect of the article to be the author's light humor about the disaster situation. Adding little comedic quotes sets the article apart from any other disaster story.   

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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