Tina Brown has made good, in her way, on her promise to decode “crackling, confusing digital dots”: Newsweek this week synthesizes Charlie Sheen’s every manic Ustream with Bret Easton Ellis’s theory, long promulgated over Twitter, of “Empire” and “post-Empire” entertainments. Mr. Ellis, whose piece is live on The Daily Beast, connects the dots of his writing and Mr. Sheen’s public pronouncements, though the piece itself is all crackle and confusion.
Mr. Ellis praises Mr. Sheen for his “post-Empire” stardom, a state of being that is both extremely ironic and self-effacing and “more raw, less diluted.” According to the author of American Psycho, Mr. Sheen is simultaneously rejecting stardom entirely and embracing it as a means of spreading a message–the point would be fairly straightforward if Mr. Ellis ever defined what, precisely, “Empire” is.
The term “Empire,” often preceded by “Post-” is used 28 times in Ellis’s nearly 1800-word piece, an average of just over twice a paragraph. The term is never defined, save for constant comparisons to other things that are, or were, vaguely zeitgeist-y: Tiger Woods is “super-Empire,” as is Aaron Sorkin’s script for The Social Network. The Kardashian sisters, the cast of Jersey Shore, and Mr. Sheen are all “Post-Empire.” So it’s something having to do with reverence, or irreverence? Where does giving a famous author money to fulminate about an already-peaked entertainment news story while trying to make a new buzzword happen fall on that continuum? We’re guessing “Empire,” though Mr. Ellis’s promise that a “hard COMPLETE version” will be available Wednesday (presumably on Mr. Ellis’s own web presence, as Newsweek has already been printed and shipped) may be Post-a-lot-of-things.
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