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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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Top Customer Reviews
Wilson nails down the essential creepiness of true fandom with the inclusion of such artifacts as an entirely genuine boxful of inadvertently deliriously funny fanmail for "New Kids on the Block": the tragically illiterate x-rated writings of desperate, usually suburban, adult women to teenage boys.
Her observations appear in chapter-length discussions of Elvis in Vegas; the ever more bizarre persona of Michael Jackson and its psycho-sexual origins; and the LA and New York commonplace of the rabidly, shamelessly ambitious aspiring actor, who defines degradation down in a quest for fame.
Wilson argues that celebrity culture is not only toxic to the egos and even physical well-being of celebrities, but also to ordinary folk, ceaselessly encouraged to regard their own lives as inherently shabbier and less important, going undocumented in gossip columns and tabloids.
Wilson's rages at celebrity culture are startlingly real, and produce unforgettably, cruelly funny putdowns of figures from divas Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion, to Siegfried & Roy, as the quintessence of the degraded Las Vegas performer. One can only wonder at what private events befell Wilson to produce this magnificent fury at the fame machine, and a wild attack on its cogs and wheels.
Easily one of the most uproarious and literate works of pop cultural commentary available. Wilson is a true original.
I was unfamiliar with Cintra Wilson's Salon column when I read "A Massive Swelling," but it doesn't surprise me that the book functions somewhat as an anthology of past writings. It does have that feel to it. I definitely don't think this weakens the book for the newcomer to her writings. I think it's a good sign that folks are mostly upset about not finding newer works from her. It just means we're all looking forward to what she has coming up next.
At times, Wilson is brilliant in carving new holes in the already-thin fabric of celebrity. Later in the book, however, you can tell that she and her editor have sewn together her columns from salon.com, which, though wonderful as columns, do not come together to form a cohesive argument. In a way, Wilson has become a victim of her own fame, toddling out used commentary and selling it as new, like a remake of a Hollywood favorite, starring Peter Scolari and Molly Ringwald.
This book is mostly enjoyable, however. You'll flag sections of it to read later to your friends, or when you hear Dion's "eye-bleeding" rendition of that awful Titanic song and need your own little way to get back at her.
It begins with a brilliance of eye. Wilson sees segments of the spectrum that the rest of us are blind to - great journalism begins in great observation. I would quote, extensively, but I don't want to diminish the pleasures of discovery for any who might pick up this book. Let me simply say that Wilson has a long skewer and, impaled like stacked shishkabob, are a long list of deserving (and deservingly easy) victims, icluding Cher, Bruce Willis, Ike Turner, the dancing-singing-boy groups, and Keanu Reeves; surprising appearances by Jack Nicholson, Jack Palance, and others, and, perhaps most unforgettably (and a most timely inclusion), Michael Jackson and "the nose.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was hoping for an in-depth analysis of celebrity culture but it's just an angry rant against popular people.Published 14 months ago by Daniel A Hayek
And who doesn't? This book will delight you. Definitely a must have. I have given at least a dozen copies away as gifts over the years. Read morePublished on March 26, 2014 by Kathy Bayham
This is one of my favorite essay collections, on a par with "Holidays in Hell" by P. J. O'Rourke. I have read it a dozen times over as many years, and still turn red in the ears,... Read morePublished on February 8, 2013 by RLW
If you have a love-hate relationship with our celebrity culture, this is a book you must read. Both grudgingly admiring and sharply critical, this book discusses our fascination... Read morePublished on August 6, 2006 by Glamorama
This is a book that sorely needed to be written. It may be several years old, but it was new to me.
With a piercing wit and a sharp tongue, Cintra Wilson cuts down to... Read more
Hip and hilarious pop culture uber-critic, Cintra Wilson, traces the imagery of the last 25 years of American celebrity icons to illustrate the emotionally warping effects of the... Read morePublished on June 1, 2005 by Jennifer M
This is pure comedy. And pure satire. Cintra Wilson's writing is at once warm and cutting. Her plunge into celebrity culture is illuminating, disturbing and highly entertaining. Read morePublished on January 12, 2005 by Uncle C
The preponderant 'massive swelling' in this collection is that of Cintra Wilson's ego. At no times does her prose effuse anything other than the superficial, the facile, and the... Read morePublished on December 25, 2004 by Ben Sullivan
Why do I dig this book? It's because the names "Joey McIntyre" of the New Kids and "Mark E. Smith" of The Fall were but pages apart. Read morePublished on May 20, 2004 by John J. Baker