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The Mirror Effect Is Not a Breakthrough,
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This review is from: The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America (Hardcover)I admire Drew Pinsky so I must reluctantly say that his latest effort The Mirror Effect is a disappointment. My disappointment is doubly bad since I had high expectations based on his intriguing discussion of this book on a local NPR interview. The problem is with the book's thesis or premise: Celebrities are worshipped more and more even as their behavior pushes the envelope of the definition of pathology and dysfunction and we, as their admirers, live vicariously through their actions and long to be like them. It is a bad trend, Pinsky argues, when the masses model themselves after celebrity narcissists.
I agree with Pinsky (what's there NOT to agree with?), but to base a book on the premise that celebrity behavior is not worthy of our aspirations is over familiar and self-evident and as such is not worthy of an entire book. The moral lesson is too simplistic.
What happens after Chapter One in which Pinsky defines the Mirror Effect (as I have above) is give countless "examples" of celebrity dysfunction from the usual suspects: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan. Instead of learning any valuable lessons, the bulk of the book feels like reading gossip from US magazine.
If you're intrigued by the premise that outrageous celebrity behavior is a bad influence on society and you want lots of juicy details of that behavior, then this book is for you. On the other hand, if the premise is too obvious to be intriguing and if you're numb to celebrity stories of self-destruction, you may, like me, find this book to be a major letdown.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 1, 2009 9:25:44 AM PDT
Catherine M. Kent says:
I haven't yet read the book, and do intend to do so. I'm intrigued by the TOPIC: narcissism, clinical condition (i.e., a side-effect of self-loathing, rather than a characteristic of self-conceit). As such, I very much appreciate this particular review, in conjunction with the others included here. It seems a well-reasoned opposing argument--and an appropriate caution: JUICY GOSSIP FOUND HEREIN. Good to be forewarned that this book may feed a reader's own voyeurism, thereby adding to the overall societal problem described by Dr. Drew.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2009 10:15:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 10, 2009 10:17:54 AM PDT
I too am intrigued by this book, as I think it addresses a real and important issue, yet I hold a degree of ambivalence towards Dr. Pinsky. I have long felt that he has contributed to the culture of celebrity narcissism as much as anyone else in similar spheres of influence. Was this not the guy who regularly had celebrities with no qualifications besides being celebrities come on his Love Line show and give advice to ordinary people about the most intimate aspect of their lives? Perhaps one of the most absurd examples was Henry Rollins, a washed-up punk rock vocalist and self-described "90's icon" with marginal abilities in anything besides being a narcissistic, pseudo-authoritative jerk who was a recurring guest on Love Line at one time. Rollins went on the discuss his participation on this show as if it was valuable community service for him--clearly he found it a good way to assuage any compunction for being a dysfunctional, attention-seeking wannabe in desperate need of validation from people he so often expresses contempt for. And this is who Pinsky thought was a good enough guest to have on more than once? Disturbing. I saw this same poor judgment and conflict of interest in Pinsky's VH1 celebrity rehab show, in which it appeared he was trying to address these celebrities' underlying problems with dysfunction and narcissism while at the same time pandering to them--on national TV no less.
I applaud Dr. Pinsky for wanting to shed light on the issue of narcissism and its seductiveness. His heart seems to be in the right place, and his motives certainly worthy. But I just don't think he's the best candidate to be writing about this topic. At times, he comes across as very competent and self-possessed in his perspective. Yet at other times, he has displayed a shortcoming for caving into his own voyeurism and fascination of the celebrities he works with. That makes me dubious of the real merit of this book, and to see at least one reviewer call Pinsky out like this is disappointing, but not entirely surprising.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2009 7:43:09 PM PDT
Kirsta M. Reisinger says:
It seems to be that you have not really paid attention to any interviews that he has been on about the book. Every person he sat down with asked the question are you not contributing to this from your celebrity rehab sober house... He responded that if the show is enough motivation for a person to get sober he does not see it as contributing to narcissism and as you see on the show most of the time he is telling them that they are not special and they will not be in the history books as he puts it. As for him contributing to who is on loveline, he doesn't decide whos on loveline anne does. He may have input but he still is forced to have people on the show that he is not particularly fond of. So before you go attacking him maybe you should do a little reasearch.
In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2009 5:59:28 AM PDT
Thomas Connelly says:
Jeffrey McMahon's review was thoughtful, balanced, and raised some interesting questions and observations. He did not attack Pinsky or anyone else. Quite frankly, as I read the book, I too at times felt Pinsky was pandering to the very celebrities he was makin examples of.
Your comments are defensive and .... I have to say .... seem rather narcissistic.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2009 11:05:34 AM PDT
I agree with you.
I'm almost done reading the book and I really enjoy it, it provides a lot of education on what causes, what maintains and what can "cure" narcissism.
I too wondered how Dr. Pinsky could produce shows like Sober House/Celebrity Rehab while stating that such reality shows featuring stars are pure exhibitionism/exploitation. He states that he hopes people will see someone they admire going through tough times and think "oh wow, if they can do it, I can do it." In a way, I think that is narcissistic -- most viewers are not celebrities and therefore do not have the resources and different pressures than we "commoners' do. Why are we identifying with celebrities in the first place
? Maybe I am wrong, but it seemed to me that Dr. Pinsky was tying to send a mixed message: at times, we're supposed to have empathy for celebrities, at other times we're being narcissistic by trying to doing so.
Shows like "Intervention" deal with addiction and we see how it affects everyone around that person -- a person who is not famous but someone who could be the person in the office next to you, the lady behind you in the checkout line, the man next to you in church. The suffering that the people around the addicted person go through is painful to watch, on Celebrity Rehab it seems much more glossed over. On CR/SH there seems to be only a tiny bit of therapy and the rest seems more like an episode of Big Brother. I can't relate to the people on the shows -- mainly because I don't think any of them have any talent. Worse still -- from the 2 seasons of CR I watched, only 2, maybe 3 people (Brigitte Nielsen, Rodney King, Shelley) treated their time in the CR as rehab first, reality show second. --- everyone else, including Dr. Drew, treated it as a reality show first. You can always tell within 2-3 episodes who is going to make it by the commitment they make from the beginning.
Posted on Sep 7, 2009 7:51:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 7, 2009 7:51:59 PM PDT
T. Smith says:
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2011 10:10:18 AM PDT
Between here and there says:
S. Reisinger, you reply to every single negative review of a Pinsky book, and most times you say "it seems that you have not really paid any attention." You sir/maam, are a fool!
Posted on Jun 19, 2013 10:15:40 PM PDT
Frank Lee says:
Dr. Drew is big into pop-psychology issues like narcissism because he's America's favorite wannabe psychologist. This review pretty much sums up what I first suspected when I heard about this book.
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