The gas of vehement assertion

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In the latest New Yorker (October 12), Tad Friend takes us into the chilling wonderworld of entertainment-business reporting, in a Letter from California, "Call Me: Why Hollywood fears Nikki Finke" (Finke runs the website Deadline Hollywood Daily). Apparently real life in the entertainment business in Hollywood goes beyond the parodies in movies and television shows.

A linguistic point about the business (p. 99):

Hollywood's leaders work with the understanding that facts are not fixed pillars but trial balloons that you inflate with the gas of vehement assertion. The truth is always negotiable.

There then follows a convoluted story (one of many in Friend's piece), about who said "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead" and in what circumstances.

I'm reminded of the way facts and truth are treated in some other domains, politics and advertising in particular.

And "scientific management", treated by the excellent Jill Lepore in a piece ("Not So Fast") later in the issue, on the history of Taylorism.


  1. Michael said,

    October 15, 2009 @ 8:43 am

    Re: "I'm reminded of the way facts and truth are treated in some other domains, politics and advertising in particular."
    Truth in advertising is at least a recognized (and sometimes successful; see recent Actimel case) endeavour. I'm still waiting for a Truth in Politics movement…

  2. Kragen Javier Sitaker said,

    October 15, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

    Do you have links to these articles? I think the nearest newsstand that carries the New Yorker is several thousand kilometers away from me.

  3. Graeme said,

    October 22, 2009 @ 7:26 am

    South Australia has a truth in political advertising law.

    My NYorker just landed (in Australia). The piece on Taylorism, especially Brandeis's role in 'scientific management's birth, was eye-opening.

    Less so the piece on Hollywood reporting. Ditto the piece on the Google business. And the recent fashion issue. I'm feeling peevy or peevish about that magazine. Is that a perennial phenomenon?

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