July 19, 2006

"The classical pimples of the adolescent working his first gas pump would also pump for her..."

Virginia Heffernan quotes and is disgusted by a PBS show about photographs of Marilyn Monroe:
The narration sounds like a terrible Norman Mailer rip-off except that it’s Mr. Mailer himself, professor emeritus of the University of Marilyn Blather. Like so many smart people recruited for documentaries, he drops his sense of humor and intones in that portentous, “would”-heavy way typical of programs about American culture. (“The mayo packet would change American drive-through cuisine forever.”)
He may be humorless, but it sounds like there are laughs to be had. And pictures of Marilyn.


ignacio said...

Keep in mind when judging anything Mailer does these days: he's quite old by now.

Whatever one thinks of his various books, he's not as lively as he used to be.

He's from the World War 2 generation of males... and that's been a while. Those days are gone.

Robert R. said...

I seem to remember last year the question about what exactly was Scorsese's role with the Bob Dylan documentary. I think making the decision to not use a portentious narrator, or any narrator at all, was one of his contributions.

It's definitely a common practice to use a narrator, whether necessary or not, on PBS documentaries. And it worked on The Civil War. But, it certainly shouldn't be necessary for all documentaries.

knoxgirl said...

What a great review! I love: The mayo packet would change American drive-through cuisine forever.

I vote for Virginia Heffernan to pen and narrate all future would-be-heavyhanded PBS documentaries!