Civil disobedience



OK, OK, if we must have an entertainment-obsessed culture, with its incumbent proliferation of glossy mags enough to make even the most fertile of rabbits jealous, at least let them all be as cover-to-cover engrossing as Mean. Better still, let them all be as in touch with situationist politics and able to nimbly undermine the standard Q&A/puff-feature practices of the Details/Maxim/People rags of the world as are the folks behind Mean. With the straight-faced thug mugs of John Cusack and Jack Black (you know, one half of Tenacious D) staring out from the cover ready to strike, and a tantalizing “Exclusive! Inside the Friars Club” as the main reader bait, the canny editors of Mean seemingly walk the fine line between tabloid-A&E rag and men’s mag. But it’s a fantastic red herring: A bizarre exchange between Ween and Matt Stone and Trey Parker, a one-two punch of features on Primal Scream and Malcolm McClaren, and a handful of engrossing, subversive reads featuring everything from home burglary to a 93-year-old philosopher acting as the mag’s reluctant advice columnist emerge swinging, spitting and ranting from the Trojan Horse.

The Friars’ Club package delivers the goods, stripping away the veneer of celluloid safety from the old-guard celebrity world and showing the old vaudeville generation and Rat Pack-era comics, entertainers, their hangers-on and pals for the bawdy bunch they truly were.

And if the exchange between Cusack and Black is ingenious in its attempts to undermine the Q&A form, the interview heckling between MC Paul Barman and his questioner strikes just the right fucked-up/fucked-off tone and content to illuminate the hyperliterate darling MC.

In a world of glorified PR hacks and the copy they spew, Mean is a refreshing cover-to-cover exercise in adventurous pomo-pop-culture literacy.

E-mail comments to [email protected].

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.