If your answer to that question is “Who cares?” well, then, you probably shouldn’t pick up the June issue of Vanity Fair. The mag devotes some 5,000 words to tracing the familiar backstory of Jessica Simpson, covering everything from her roots as a preacher’s daughter in rural Texas to the unflattering pictures of her “looking less than slender, holding the microphone like a turkey leg, and wearing what were described everywhere as ‘mom jeans’” (those are VF writer Rich Cohen’s words, not ours) that made the gossip-blog rounds a few months back. And while we still feel like the Arcade Fire has written the definitive treatise on the inner workings of the entire Simpson clan (in the song “Antichrist Television Blues”), we have found ourselves pondering for most of the morning Cohen’s observation that she’s standing “at the crossroads of Obscurity and Re-Invention” like some sort of top-heavy Robert Johnson. So, which path will she find herself on?
Cohen never quite gets around to answering that question in his piece; instead, he seems content to catalog the myriad career changes she’s undergone over the last ten years (from late-nineties teen pop starlet to reality-TV train wreck to failed movie star to aspiring country-music star) and let the readers draw their own conclusions as to what fate ultimately has in store for her. As for us, well, we think it will be very difficult for Jessica Simpson to reinvent herself yet again and capture the zeitgeist in the way that she and her ex-husband Nick Lachey did during that magical yet brief time in the early aughts when MTV reality shows Newlyweds and The Osbornes ruled the airwaves. After all, outside of a career as a trapeze artist, there aren’t many other stones in the entertainment world that she has yet to turn over. Yet despite the fact that she’ll likely be remembered as the Candlebox of the teen-pop-starlet era (wherein Britney was Nirvana and Christina was Pearl Jam), for whatever reason, people still seem to gravitate towards this marginally talented bombshell all these years later.
Help us figure it out, VultureWatchers! What’s her appeal? Why do people still care about her? Would you rather just see her go away forever? You know where to leave your thoughts.
The Jessica Question [VF]