I outlined the general formula for an Esquire Profile Of A Female, and when I did I conducted no research whatsoever, did not even go back and read a single old article, because I've read enough of these fucking things that I can create a reasonable facsimile in my sleep. And apparently, I am not alone in this skill. Last month Esquire's Tom Chiarella profiled The Killing's Mireille Enos, who basically wrote the (ridiculous) article herself. Let's start with the opening paragraph:
Her hair is loosely clipped in a chignon, that most delicate and mutable
twist, so when she leans forward, when she lounges, when she reaches for an
olive or fingers a pit from between her lips, placing the dead soldier on a
paper napkin on the table between us, each time, Mireille Enos offers up a
slightly different aspect of self.
So far, so Esquire-y. I swear to god those sentences are real and were really in a magazine. But hang on:
her lips, then nods. "You've got to figure it out. I'm not saying anything
about mystery, either. I'm just saying a woman should have to be considered
from many angles."
So the author basically plaigarized the lede from his own subject--it isn't his observation, it's hers. About herself (This article doesn't cast a positive light on the writing at Esquire, but it doesn't exactly reflect well on Enos, either). From there, it hits all of the Esquire marks. Weird, incorrect but bold declarations about society ("Everyone's a Mormon these days"), references to her body veiled in descriptions of personality ("She's warming up out here on the patio, and it becomes clear that Mireille is a shin-bumping, knee-patting, olive-popping enthusiast"), pseudo-masculine biographical detail ("I'm a black belt in tae kwon do"). Then, as every celebrity profile draws to a close, there's the appraisal of career-state:
She is without complaint about her career, past, present, and future. But
why would she protest? She locked up roles in major movies like World War Z with Brad Pitt and The Gangster Squad* with Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling,
and Emma Stone, both out in the next year.
[*Photographic memory types will remember, and those keeping track of the way everything on this blog connects Kevin-Bacon-like back to everything else will like to know, that Ashley Greene auditioned for The Gangster Squad last year.]
She looks straight at you when she's talking about movie projects. You can't see the bun, though the cheekbones and the slender neck are a separate pleasure. This look she gives must be to convey calm, the sense that she's willing to live with the vagaries of fame and to work in the movie business without falling to pieces, or blaming someone else.
I think they just put this paste this paragraph into every female profile, just subbing in the bun for whatever other non-tit body part they decide to obsess over. Earlobe, pinkie toe. At the end Enos mentions helping her father fix cars, mostly by handing him wrenches. That's another Esquire trademark--ALWAYS MENTION HER FATHER--the Freudian implications of which I do not care to unpack. But in this case it is also Enos assuming control over the article again. Her bun falls apart--how symbolic!--and she confidently begins to put it back together.
She turns her head then, and it is clear that the hair has all gone to hell
and the chignon is wilting. "This I can fix for sure," she says, nodding at
a bobby pin on the table. "Just keep handing me the wrenches, will you?"
With actresses like these, who needs writers? Chiarella tries to take control again, closing out with this line: "Pin in hand, she reaches back and starts to assemble a new angle." Nice try, buddy, but she wrote that one too! I don't feel like Esquire should be allowed to go on after this. The students have become the teacher.