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Joel "Boring" Stein

Part of: LA , Literati , NYC

[Breakfast: small eggnog latte from Peet's Coffee (way better than Starbuck's]

Columnist, Joel Stein, has been given an opinion page in the L.A. Times to write about the entertainment industry. WTF?

A few weeks ago the New York Observer called Joel Stein “the face of the late 90’s snarkiness bubble…a take-him-or-leave-him figure,” and quoted L.A. Times editor, Michael Kinsley, saying he had issues with Stein’s Time magazine columns. Yet somehow Stein charmed Kinsley into getting his own page. Stein must be an amazing salesman.

Why do publications have to hire the most boring writers ever? I don’t have anything personally against Joel “boring” Stein except that his writing literally puts me to sleep. I had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly when he had the back page column, and I would really read it to fall asleep. I even secretly hoped each week the he would write something entertaining. Why can’t the L.A. Times hire a writer who lives and breathes-- and let’s face it, vomits Hollywood-- here in L.A.? Technically, Stein says he’s moving here from New York City at the end of the year. Right. He’s probably moving to San Francisco and will make infrequent jaunts to L.A.

The thing that annoys me the most about Stein is that he loves to write about how egotistical he is, but he doesn’t exhibit this trait in his columns. Anytime you write in the first person, it can be construed as egocentric. Duh! Here’s Stein trying to be cute, commenting on the Jayson Blair scandal in his defunct Entertainment Weekly column:

“I never even thought of making stuff up. That lack of imagination is reason enough not to. In truth, I don’t lie in print because I don’t care enough about my topics to bother. They are, after all, just a pretext to write about the one thing I do care about: me.”

In the same column he goes on to say, “I’m lucky I enjoy talking about myself more than spinning tales about others; that my need to be loved is even more than pathetic than Glass’ or Blair’s.”

Stein seems to use a lot of filler sentences like these to get his word count up for his tiny columns. His problem is that he doesn’t have enough to say. Stein must have an amusingly arrogant monologue running in his head at all times, and that’s why he’s under the illusion that his columns are so self-involved. I’ll admit that I haven’t read his celebrity Q and A for Time or his old anonymous Vanity Fair columns that ICM’s bio says he penned. Perhaps these are brilliant, perhaps not.

Stein’s website’s front page explains: “Joel Stein, columnist for Time Magazine, has always had something to say. From his earliest writing to his latest editorial, Joel’s self-focused opinions have amused or offended just about anyone that took the time to read them.”

Boring. In case you were wondering, writers always write these third person bio’s themselves. For Joel’s personal website, he should’ve been more creative. Something like this:

Joel Stein, columnist for Time Magazine, was so loquacious as a child that his family gave him up for adoption. Thankfully Joel’s adoptive parents ignored him, inspiring him to become an attention whore and jack-off aka writer. Since then, Joel’s prose has dazzled and confused the masses.

I’ve gone over Stein’s columns and have not found anything slightly offensive or very snarky. Perhaps his humor was considered snarky in the ‘90s. However, Stein’s website does have a hilarious picture gallery.

BAT advice to Stein: Please Joel Stein, don’t try so hard to write something entertaining, and you probably will.

Note: If any of my readers are fans of Stein’s writing, please drop me an e-mail with your reasons.

Robofrost writes:

"Aaaaaarg! Reason number 79 why the L.A. Times sucks and always will. That's freaking absurd that Stein is the top choice to comment on the industry for the Times. His connections must be 24k-gold, because his narcissism gimmick is so passé. I agree that his past columns are more milquetoast than snarky -- not that snarky would be an improvement. I guess the Times thinks a name with a track record is more important than finding a voice that's sharp, opinionated, observant, and perhaps a bit edgy. Kind of like what they lost when film critic Manohla Dargis left for the NY Times."


L.A. Weekly's, Nikki Finke, also has strong opinions about the L.A. Times hiring Stein (Via LA Observed)


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whatever. he's hilarious. you're boring.

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