Sanity is a cozy lie!" said Susan Sontag.
So we really don't cherish "sanity" anymore because the world's people feel they are living through uncertain times.
So why should my favorite magazine, Vanity Fair, seek special sanity? The March Hollywood issue delves deeply into the celebrity "feud" with the Oscar-winning Gwyneth Paltrow, who somehow became one of the untouchables.
Vanity Fair included this among its many reflections on the "Old Hollywood" from star Robert Wagner's upcoming book titled "You Must Remember This." Let's add a piece on long-timer Peter Bogdanovich in which he does his usual independent thing.
We can add an article on the historical Eve Babitz, described as a "boho" intellectual, and I am ashamed to say I never heard of her before this. The magazine offers up swell retrospectives of famous photographers and graphic artists -- Chuck Close, John Van Hamersveld and its star Annie Leibovitz, who has done a glamorous cover pullout of current beauties, male and female, all dressed up in black-tie style They all look like Oscar winners to me. Moreover, Annie writes of her own digs: "The pictures from my book 'Pilgrimage' ... the people are gone now but their presence resonates. The picture of Elvis' TV set with the bullet hole in it is placed near a portrait of Donald Trump. There's something about power and anger going on there. Virginia Woolf's stained and scarred writing desk is near Joan Didion's portrait. That desk says something about art. Art is messy. And it's hard."
She also offers us photos of Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Swifty Lazar and Joan Collins.
Photographer Chuck Close gives us his astonishing Polaroid's of Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Oprah, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Morgan Freeman, Annette Bening and Bette Midler.
I saw Michelle Pfeiffer somewhere. Let's add Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Scarlett Johansson and George Clooney.
The mag also examines the Disney animators who have come into their own after years of servitude. As a plus, we get great photos of the immortals: Dietrich, Monroe, Garbo, Crawford, Bacall, Harlow, Lena Horne, Mia Farrow, Sophia Loren, Louise Brooks and the utterly wonderful Angie Dickinson.
And, yes, some younger luminaries: Dakota Johnson, Penelope Cruz, Amber Heard, Keira Knightley and Jennifer Lawrence. There's a fascinating piece on how starlets can become famous by first being fashionable on the red carpet. And we get to see so many big stars in so many of the beautiful advertisements!
The Proust questionnaire features the independent Harvey Weinstein, who holds forth and raves about his wife and daughters and assures us he is a family man to the max.
The most fun of all is a THEN and NOW piece, which asks, among other things, "Who was the Bachelor No. 1 then? The answer was George Clooney. Now? It's Rupert Murdoch!
RECENTLY we grouched a little that Oprah Winfrey had been passed over for either a Golden Globe or Oscar nomination for her performance in "The Butler." I learned later, from O's great pal, Gayle King, that Ms. Winfrey was just fine about it. Now we learn that Oprah is still interested in acting. She appeared at the 29th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival and talked about her screen work. (Before the talk began, there was a montage of her best moments in movies. She joked about the brilliance of the editor who put the clips together, considering that she has appeared in only four feature films.)
Of future projects she said, "I think I will do other films and make choices that are meaningful to me. I have some specific things I won't do. I won't kill people. I don't want to go to a place where I exert violence on somebody. For me, life is about energy." Well, I don't have a particular wish to see Oprah killing anybody. But I'd sure like to see her playing a completely contemporary 21st-century woman ... with a stylish wardrobe and smart dialogue.
In the course of this chat at the festival, Oprah also mentioned what a sorry state the country is in, in terms of intellectual curiosity. "Is it shocking that a news organization can't do news? No, because we're not a culture that wants news. We're a culture that wants entertainment. It's who we are."
SIX OR seven months ago, the Justin Bieber story was kind of funny -- his tantrums, his perpetually lost shirt, his childish tweets. But constant, fairly serious run-ins with law enforcement -- vandalism, reckless driving, assault charges, resisting arrest -- his open flaunting of using pot (disrupting a flight into New Jersey the other day) and his own father enabling -- indeed, encouraging him -- every step of the way, has turned the tale much darker.
On top of that, Bieber is now being labeled the "bad influence" who led the talented and charming Disney princess Selena Gomez down the path to perdition that sent her to rehab. (Alas, Gomez bolted from the facility well before she should have. Let's just hope she doesn't pop up hanging onto one of Bieber's bare, over-tatted arms.)
For a while now, people have been having fun with the idea of revoking Bieber's green card and deporting him back to his homeland of Canada. But after the airline incident (the pot smoke was so heavy the pilots reportedly had to don oxygen masks!) I don't think deporting this troubled kid and his even more troubled father out of this country is such a bad idea. Virginia Senator Mark Warner says he's ready to sign a petition to boot Bieber out.
Legal experts say that the way things stand now it is unlikely Bieber's issues will lead to his deportation. His visa allows him to live in the U.S. because of his "extraordinary ability" in the arts.
Please don't shoot the messenger. That's what it actually says.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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