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Home > People

Psychojism: Graydon Carter

5 November 2004

Like us, you may have encountered weird people who claim to do strange things in a pathetically transparent attempt to get attention. You know the type: they'll say things like 'I like to sleep on the floor. No mattress, just the hard floor. I just like it.' Or 'I love the smell of turpentine. I just love it.' It's the attention seeking born of a vague suspicion that you may be an uninteresting twat. Well, they're right about that much.

It's possible to feel sorry for anonymous nobodies whose own mother wouldn't miss if they disappeared, but not attention seeking people who really should know better. People like Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair. (Although with a name like Graydon, you're bound to turn out a bit warped.)

In an interview in the Observer Magazine, Graydon, a man who has an amazing, high-level job that involves meeting powerful and famous people, making a big contribution to America's cultural life and earning a small fortune, says:

'Until recently I used to wash my hair with dishwashing liquid. Only in the past four years have I discovered conditioner.'

To which we'd reply: oh yeah? Why the fuck would a wealthy and cosmopolitan individual use washing up liquid to wash their hair? Everyone, including the most abjectly poverty stricken, uses shampoo. It's not expensive, and it's immeasurably better than walking around smelling like a dish.

What is the point of this weird affectation? To suggest that Graydon is a no-nonsense guy, who just wants a cleaning product that gets the job done? In reality, it suggests two other possibilities: either Graydon is a liar or he's in thrall to contrived habits designed to make him 'different'. If the latter is the case, why not just say you floss with dogshit? It's considerably more memorable.

As if to reinforce the message 'I am a bit of a tosser', Graydon goes on to comment:

'I never wanted to be a journalist. I arrived in New York wanting to be a playwright or a painter but I had to make a living so I went to work for Time magazine. Now... I literally cannot imagine life without being an editor.'

Superficially these are the words of someone who realises that youthful ambitions rarely go according to plan, but who is equally aware that life's rich pageant can take you in different but equally rewarding directions. But note '...so I went to work for Time magazine'. The subtext is:

'I'm so fucking amazing I just fell into a job on one of the world's most famous and influential magazines. Am I cool or what?'

Where do people get this self-regarding crap from? It could well be something to do with the need to compensate for being a dullard who's somehow managed to attain a position above their intellectual station. This certainly seems to be the case with Graydon, who comes out with banalities like 'magazines need to follow the story of the age' and 'every minute you invest in kids you get back four times over'.

Still, at least this means something, however uninteresting. But the puzzle remains, why do people claim to wash their hair with Fairy or say they like to eat soap or find Lady Penelope eminently shaggable?

Answers on a postcard, please. Written in dog shit.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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