"What is the main thing? Well, there was a moment when she unzipped her dress for me. It was sort of a requisite celebrity profile moment." Note extremely sophisticated meta take: He's no ordinary celebrity-profile hack, so he can both say it and not seem to be overimpressed or boastful about it.
The circumstances of the unzipped moment: He had asked to see a tattoo of an endangered species of tiger, "and she obliged, reaching her hands behind her back and pulling down her zipper. The black dress parted and in the conventions of the celebrity profile, I should have been thinking, Hey, sexy. But I wasn't."
I'll leave the big reveal of the deeply philosophical, nonsexual thoughts about media and reality that he was really thinking when "the black dress parted" for those who read the entire profile for themselves.
Instead, let us follow, or attempt to follow, the rationale for Angelina Jolie being "the best woman in the world" and how that relates to 9/11 and celebrity. (The highbrow celebrity profile must always offer a novel theory of Celebrity Itself.)
And here it is—he begins with the question: "Does 9/11 still have meaning for most Americans? Does it have more meaning than celebrity? Does it have more meaning than the very specific message of meaninglessness contained in the weekly parable of Angelina Jolie's twisted double life? Or have we reached the point where its meaning is somehow inextricable from the meaning of celebrity, as 9/11 recedes into the past and celebrity gives birth to the future?"
I'm not making this up. I'm copying it right out of the pages of a well-known magazine, which (full disclosure) I've written for in the past. But I will be deeply indebted to any Slate reader who can make the slightest bit of sense of this paragraph about meaninglessness. Is it an example of what they used to call at Yale "the fallacy of imitative form," in which in order to write about meaninglessness you have to be meaningless?
Actually, I suspect it is the product of someone who has read the late George W. S. Trow's famous essay, "Within the Context of No Context" and is attempting to ape its convoluted way of saying the obvious without even having something obvious to say.
But does anybody ever read this stuff? Does anybody take it seriously? Does the writer? It's the Emperor's New Clothes of prose. There's a certain sadness to it, as well. To paraphrase that line in "Howl": I saw some of the best writers of my generation destroyed by celebrity profiling.
I don't think, in some puritanical Trowvian way, that there's anything wrong with people being interested in celebrities. There's just something condescending in the way certain magazines think they can put one over on the reader with these transparently insincere intellectual rationales for caring about celebs.