This is the state of our journalism.
By “state,” I mean the stuff that apparently matters to people who read the news. And by “our journalism,” I mean the grubby, overbearing, fault-finding mechanism otherwise known as the Daily Mail, a British tabloid.
This breathless headline enlightened millions of readers on September 21, 2012, at 09:04 EST:
Has Katie Holmes got any other shoes? Star wears grubby Isabel Marant boots FIFTEEN times in a row.
The article, if you’re not outraged enough to read it, is all about how Katie Holmes is wacko for wearing this one pair of shoes for FIFTEEN days in a row. All caps helps establish how truly crazy this feat is, like a disappointing Christmas or a Morgan Spurlock binge.
This is investigative journalism at its finest. It reminds me of the glory days of American journalism, when our nation was fighting the fin de siècle war against the Spanish. It was a time of great competition between Pulitzer’s New York World and Hearst’s New York Journal. It cannot be denied that this competition brought out the best in those entrepreneurs, and the best in yellow—nay, golden—journalism. The spectacle, the fabulism, the hyperbole! These are words at their most effulgent, thoughts at their ripest.
The Daily Mail has laid bare the preposterousness of Ms. Holmes’ choice with some handy mathematical perspective. The newspaper calculates that “each wear works out to just £21.66 of the whole £325 cost of the boots,” the suspicion being that Holmes has forsaken her ritzy prerogative for the dirty ranks of sidewalk couture.
According to sources who wish not to be identified, A-list celebrities must hover in the $300 per wear echelon to meet peer-review approval. High-level executives throw away their Bemers and Ferragamos after the price per wear ratio falls near $150, and even C-list celebrities maintain standards—if $100 per wear is what you can call a “standard.”
The idea is that if you’re a celebrity, you have to dress a certain way and demonstrate a certain profligacy with your money. How else will people know that you’re a celebrity?
When I applied the same conversion to my own trusty pair of kicks—retail price divided by days worn—it turns out they get roughly $0.08 per wear. This places me below the price/wear index of an average Wendy’s employee and roughly in the same index as M.C. Hammer when he was foreclosed on, although barely.
It’s the pits not being dipped.