Is Oprah the Most Influential Person Ever?

September 03, 2021

When Oprah Winfrey tells people, "I am here to ask you to think seriously,” apparently they do. She really did say this, in 2007, and her audience duly thought about who was the best person for the US presidency. It was Barack Obama, America’s first black president. Oprah was, and remains, one...

The Prince, the Financier, the Henchwoman and the Girl

August 11, 2021

“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” said Virginia Roberts Giuffre, adding that she “did not come to the decision lightly.” Now 38, she claims she was forced to have sex with a member of the British royal family while under duress and still a minor. Prince...

MTV at 40: Did Video Kill the Radio Star?

July 30, 2021

On August 1, 1981, rock music’s second revolution started. The first didn’t have an official starting point, but Elvis Presley’s first number-one single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” was released on January 27, 1956, and caused barely imaginable changes in music and beyond. There was mayhem,...

Bill Cosby Is Free: Is It Perversion of Justice or Divine Providence?

July 01, 2021

On May 9, 1985, John J. O'Connor wrote a story for The New York Times under the headline, “Bill Cosby’s Triumph.” It was the kind of accolade the comedian had become used to: “You look at ‘The Cosby Show’ and you feel, most of the time, just plain good. Television life on Thursdays at...

Will Transgender Athletes Bring the End of Women’s Sport as We Know It?

June 29, 2021

The progress of women in sport has been handicapped, not by their own frailty or bodily deficiencies but by myths about their physical abilities. For nearly a century, women’s relative inferiority in sport was attributable to one thing: men. Unenlightened Victorian doctors perpetuated so many...

The Afterlife of Michael Jackson

June 23, 2021

Dear Michael Jackson, This is the first letter I’ve written to a dead person, though you’re still alive in a sense, aren’t you? There were always two Michael Jacksons: one, the flesh-and-blood mortal who succumbed 12 years ago; the other, a product of countless people’s imaginations, a...

Why Do So Many Athletes Have Mental Health Issues?

June 16, 2021

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche didn’t have the afflictions of athletes in mind when he wrote this, though many athletes who have surfaced from depression actually appear to be fortified by the ordeal. Others suffer, often in...

Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, 50 Years On

May 20, 2021

What is it about some great artists that makes them want to be someone else? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the father of Sherlock Holmes, aspired to be a historical novelist like Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoyevsky, neglecting that he created some of the finest detective fiction of all time. François...

Is the European Super League Such a Terrible Idea?

April 19, 2021

When the hysteria dies down, think carefully: Is the proposed breakaway European Super League (ESL) such a terrible idea? Most of the football clubs involved struggle to break even and most are rescued out of a financial mess by a yearly gift from their owners-cum-benefactors. With the backing...

Why Fame Can Be a Nightmare

April 16, 2021

Self-annihilation is a constituent part of many celebrity careers. While some actors or singers slide smoothly from one success to another, hardly pausing for the occasional misadventure, others are ruined, occasionally by others but much more usually by their own devices. Frankie Lymon’s...

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