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A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations Paperback – July 1, 2001
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Warning: do not read this book at a wake, on a precipice, or with a full bladder. Unless you're a humorless fan of Cher, Michael Jackson, Barbra Striesand, or Mick Jagger, Wilson's turbo, heat-seeking essays about fame, the bane of our commodified culture, will induce bent-double, breathless laughter. A columnist for Salon and the San Francisco Examiner, Wilson, a latter-day Dorothy Parker without the self-hate, writes about the psychoses the lust for fame induces in the stars, their fans, and countless pathetic wanna-bes. In writing about boy bands, like the New Kids on the Block, Wilson reports on the disturbing fan mail they receive from women old enough to be their mothers. Excessive cosmetic surgery in pursuit of perfect bodies elicits blisteringly hilarious commentary on the likes of Courtney Love and Celine Dion. Smart, supercharged, ethical, and talented, Wilson also takes on the ersatz worlds of the Oscars and Las Vegas, and the malignancy of racism and sexism in Hollywood. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Cintra is an original. She is talented, funny, and altogether exceptional." -- Francis Ford Coppola
"I like to laugh and I like to think and Cintra makes me do both out loud and in public. She tells the truth funny. She's brilliant, she's funny, and she's really good-looking in that sexy picture in the back of the book that you get for no extra charge. She's better than the best, but you can't afford her, so just buy her book. It's the only thing about her that's cheap." -- Penn Jillette, Penn & Teller
"If the subjects of Cintra Wilson's loathing continue to appear in public after this book is published, it must be because they can't read." -- Greil Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
...Wilson --one of America's most achingly and genuinely gifted (+ necessarily irreverent) comedic powers-- has had to since face the quavering, quivering, quaking shift caused by the bloating, burgeoning fecal vapor of excessive political correctness. She has not navigated that chasm in silence (c.f Wilson's brain-frying 'Caligula' book).
Without equivocation, Wilson is one of the most gifted socio-cultural writers who has seemed to stand abjectly *against* that insidious movement of neurotic political correctness, as evidenced in this great book, A MASSIVE SWELLING, and frankly all of her previous/other exceptional books.
Wilson, as a writer and performer, has always been better than the vapors of the often drab, gas-fumed, bourgeois dogma surrounding a few aspects of her personal expression, and, in terms of unimpeachable cultural criticism, her 'Massive Swelling' book has always been one of the best proofs in her corner.
Wilson is one of the few authors who can make a reader explode with a belly-laugh ... not only because of her ideas, but because of the way she can structure a sentence.
This book was/is a quirky little piece of prophecy, in many ways. Before Gawker and Jezebel and Dlisted and Kardashians and sundry even came into being, there was one significant American writer regularly sinking razor-sharp journalistic-claws into our dysfunctional "celebrity culture": Cintra Wilson.
In this book, Wilson starts at the heart and rips outward from there.
Yet, even when she rips, she does so with delectable poetry and good reason. This lady has worked around the highest and lowest industry professionals, and she has never suffered fools lightly. If anyone on this earth thinks they have seen the funniest take-offs on Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and others ... think again.
Read her intelligent cultural observations and SQUEAL at contemporary contrived beasts like Lady Gaga, etc.
Soap-up, and apply her philosophy liberally.
The author primarily targets singers, actors both movie and stage, entertainers, wannabes, chieftains, and the cheerleaders of celebritism for their distorted lives where everyday realities and decencies are ignored and which can proceed in positively obnoxious and harmful directions. The celebrities selected for skewering are hardly surprising. The calamitous lives of Michael and Elvis; the grotesqueness of disfiguring plastic surgery as a means to stay or get on top (see Cher); the unrestrained lewdness of aging Hollywood actors and moguls; and the sleazy, smarmy Las Vegas entertainer, a la Wayne Newton, easily serve to make the point.
The broader culture is hardly spared. The hugely deforming and crippling aspects of small girls pursuing fame through sports, namely gymnastics and ice skating, pushed by celebrity hungry parents and coaches is a chilling reminder of the costs of reaching for fame. In addition, the connection between unimaginative entertainment and the promotion of noncontroversial celebrity is examined. Not spared is the unquestioning obsession with celebrities that the broader culture exhibits.
Though unfamiliar with her writings, the book seems to be snippets of previous work - probably columns - and does lack the continuity of a more conventional book. Her phraseology is often catchy and original as well as outrageous but at times can be awkward and difficult requiring rereads to grasp the intent.
The book is rated fairly highly due to its outrageousness and irreverence towards a phenomenon that needs skewering. A decision to read this book would hinge on one's interest in the dissection of the shenanigans and sicknesses exhibited by mostly show-biz personalities and the broader culture intent on celebrity.
Most recent customer reviews
With a piercing wit and a sharp tongue, Cintra Wilson cuts down to...Read more