High life

RIP, Time magazine

A great magazine finally expired last week when it put such an obscenity as Kanye West on the cover

2 May 2015

9:00 AM

2 May 2015

9:00 AM

Talk about how the mighty have fallen. Time magazine was for the better part of the 20th century the model for American newsweeklies. Its style of epigrammatic terseness and punchy prose became known as ‘Timespeak’, the compact format an invention of its founder, Henry Luce. Luce (‘Harry’ to friends and family) was the son of a missionary and was born in China. He was devout, brainy, single-minded and convinced that America was a miracle conceived by the Almighty. In a British boarding school in Shandong, Harry was mercilessly flogged for his insistence, at times, on speaking to God directly, but he also became proficient in French, Latin, Greek, history and maths. He then went to Hotchkiss and Yale. He was voted the most brilliant member of the class of 1920.

Three years later, he founded Time having raised $86,000 from Yale classmates. Six years later, he was a multimillionaire and had also founded Fortune — and eventually Life. He married one of the most beautiful women of the time, Clare Boothe Brokaw — it was the second marriage for both — and they became the most powerful couple of the age. Clare was no shrinking violet. She had beauty and a ferocious intelligence and her dry wit had jealous rivals fleeing in droves. While editing Vanity Fair, she wrote The Women, a Broadway hit that ran and ran and was made into a film. A real vamp, Clare had the best pair of legs around, wrote three successful plays, was a roving war correspondent, a screenwriter and grande dame of the Republican party after serving in Congress and becoming an ambassador.

When the couple travelled, they dropped in on people like Winston Churchill, Somerset Maugham, John F. Kennedy, Chiang Kai-shek, even Zhou Enlai. Evelyn Waugh went weak at the knees whenever he met Clare, as did Salvador Dalí. She was a flirt who had been Bernard Baruch’s mistress before marrying one of the richest men in America, the alcoholic George Brokaw. She was fearless covering the fall of Belgium as the Panzers roared in leaving minutes before the Belgians threw in the towel. Ditto in China, flying over Japanese lines in a small plane and reporting on China’s collapse for Time-Life.

By the time I met her, she was a very old lady, but still flirtatious and very outspoken. My father bought her apartment on 993 5th Avenue and gave it to my older brother. (He lost it to his first wife.) Playing gin with the Buckleys once, Clare said that she was getting tired of reading about the Holocaust. Bill Buckley’s TV producer, a nice man who was Jewish, didn’t flinch at all, but said to her with a smile, ‘You’re right, Clare, but I’m getting sort of tired of this Crucifixion business.’ It was one of those very rare moments when Clare came out second best.

This, then, was the couple that made Time a great magazine, and, in a way, America a great country. Both Harry and Clare were registered Republicans, but both urged FDR, who frequently had them to stay in the White House, to enter the European and Far East wars long before Pearl Harbor. FDR pulled out all the stops for Clare, but she saw right through that charming phoney. Harry died in 1967, Clare in 1987. Time magazine has been ailing for some years now, and finally expired last week. Mind you, it still publishes, but it’s a living, rotting corpse whose flesh stinks of vulgarity, celebrity ass-wiping and opportunism.

The eyewitness to great world events when Henry Luce ran the shop has been replaced by ‘the 100 most influential people’, the malodorous cesspit of A-listers headed by a smirking rapper called Kanye West, husband of the grotesque Kim Kardashian. Once upon a time, to be on the cover of Time was as great an honour as America could bestow. Last week, cover boy Kanye sang in front of such great and good as Padma Lakshmi, Mia Farrow, Martha Stewart, Barry Diller and Amy Schumer, ‘I’d rather be a dick than a swallower …Fuck you and your Hamptons house.’ Charming and extremely talented, and enough to make both Harry and Clare rise up from their graves.

How have we come to this, you may well ask. How can Time sink so low as to put such an obscenity as Kanye West on its cover and even have him rap his obscenities during the gala dinner? I suppose it’s because we live in a world in which lies trump the truth, ugliness beauty and evil goodness. West is a black man and he can do no wrong. By putting him on the cover as the most influential man in America, Time wants to show its coolness and anti-racist credentials. Pop culture is what counts, not culture, and the Luces and their original creation are products of a white racist society that no longer has any say in America. Well, if you think the Time people got it wrong, what about one Sarah Blake. She’s written a book about the attention-grabbing rapper and has compared him to — yes, I ain’t kidding — Jesus Christ. ‘Kanye is 33. If he were Jesus, he would die this year, and be resurrected.’ Nurse, help. Rap is the equivalent of projectile vomiting, only worse because of the hatred in its lyrics. Hatred against women and white people, against morality and justice, against everything that Luce believed in when he announced that the 20th century was to be known as America’s century. Time mag, RIP.

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Show comments
  • WFB56

    Taki, nailed it again.

  • Ray Spring

    Excellent. I wonder why I subscribe to Time. It has to pull its socks up, soon. And pull Blacks level with Whites, not sink Whites into the morass.

    • stephen

      of course it was better in the good old days like 1938 when someone called hitler was on the cover as man of the year

      • Thersites

        Being nominated as man of the Year was not intended as an honour, it was simply recognition of the person who dominated the news (for good or for ill) in the preceding year. In 1938 that person was Adolf Hitler. Hard to argue with that.

        Totally agree with Taki, by the way. I cancelled my subscription to Time about thirty years ago when I was about half way through an article about some film director who had bonked his wife’s adopted daughter, and should this be considered as some sort of incest. I asked myself “Why am I even reading this?”

        • Mc

          Correct. I recall Time transforming from a serious news magazine to a Heat magazine around that time. Not sure my chronology is correct, but the Time / Warner merger was part of the decline. Newsweek preceded Time into the mire by some years.

          Some of today’s best reading material can be found on the blogs of subject matter experts, so I don’t particularly mourn Time’s demise.

          • davidshort10

            And of course they thought they were going with the flow and ensuring success by going vulgarian. That’s what happened to the Sunday Times under Andrew Neil. Luckily he has not been allowed to spoil this magazine too much. I still don’t buy the print version because of his presence. Cancelled my subscription of 25 years.

      • Ray Spring

        I think Thersites has hit the nail fairly and squarely. Time has collapsed from what it was. I started reading it almost 50 years ago. But print journalism is difficult today. Time, at least down here in NZ, seems to issue three magazines in four weeks. And I have never heard of the chap they have on the cover. What the choice further demonstrates is the erosion of Democracy. It has been replaced with Circuses. Is that correct for the plural of Circus? Anyway, they appear everywhere, even in the Antipodes.

    • Dale Gribble

      You’re already lower than scum, racist trash. I’ve been white with youz all my life – none of you people can claim any high ground over other races; parasites pretending you have anything to do with building the culture that you were born into; pretending that British “exploration” isn’t directly responsible for the fucking shit-horrid state of things.

      • Ray Spring

        Have you read the Time magazine report on Baltimore? Why is it that when Whites move out, Blacks riot? Why have parts of Baltimore not recovered from the 1968 riots? Blacks in UK actually incited the white kids to join them in riot, arson and theft. Aint Racist, its the truth.

  • Richard

    Of course, Mandela was a saint, too, or even like Jesus, according to Martin Webb, in spite of his wanting to see the streets run with blood. All it takes is to be black.

  • PetaJ

    ” I suppose it’s because we live in a world in which lies trump the truth, ugliness beauty and evil goodness.”
    This whole article was excellent, but the heart of it was the above sentence.

  • ghostoflectricity

    Wolcott Gibbs on “Timespeak” in The New Yorker, 1936: “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.”

    Strange couple, the Luces. Unabashed American imperialists, racists, and anti-Semites, and not great believers in or followers of the sixth (in most Christian traditions) or seventh (in most Jewish ones) Commandment (the one about adultery, but then, we all know Taki’s history on that one). Early users (in controlled conditions) of LSD and advocates of its responsible application, though the Time Inc. magazines took a decidedly dim view of the ’60s counterculture.

    • jim

      You lot must come with sonar.Give it a rest.

    • Fritz123

      The body electric.

  • Alex B

    this is clearly an article written by someone who seems to clinging to the ‘good old days’ and who refuses to understand the modern world. west’s music is influential to many people, and certainly affect more people than a large portion of other winners of ‘person of the year’. his 2010 album ‘my beautiful dark twisted fantasy’ is the pinnacle of his talent, wherein he uses samples from a wide variety of art to craft a powerful and deep message. this is something you clearly haven’t heard, and instead make snap judgments about him. the lyrics you quoted were from ‘new slaves’, a song where west lets out the frustration he and other black people alongside him have experienced being treated as a slave in modern america. critique and understanding from west is influential, if only because he’s one of the few people still refusing to censor his views on society at large – he’s certainly deserving of his praise.

    • Rupert_Napier

      I can’t decide whether the author of this comment is taking the Mickey Bliss or not.

      The lack of punctuation indicates probably not.

    • Malus Pudor

      Illiterate git…. have you ever tried starting a sentence with a capital letter ?

    • MC73

      He’s a marketing genius masquerading as a creative artist. Only the truly stupid or shallow would consider him to have creative depth.

    • Precambrian

      Both grammatically and factually inaccurate. Congratulations.

    • greencoat

      A lovely piece of satire – had me chuckling.

    • Fritz123

      La societe du spectacle. Yes, there is music and fun as well, but this has not mattered at all for classical political thinkers.

  • Malus Pudor

    Clare Boothe Luce… yet another of Taki’s sheet starchers…. is there a woman, dead or alive, who hasn’t suffered from this priapic goat’s attentions ?

    Bravo, Taki, old boy… you have a libido that Zeus would have been proud of ….

    • Callipygian

      Oh come on. Not everyone likes a man made of money. Some of us want intellect, soul, looks, moral seriousness, proper modesty, and sweetness. Oh, and youth. To say nothing of devotion.

  • James Conan

    Hear hear.
    West is a mindless celebrity, who had to proclaim himself a ‘genius.’

  • Fritz123

    It is a lack of content. There is no american political thinking behind its power anymore. The late Obama, maybe, but he is an American as well.

  • Johnny Foreigner

    So,Taki you’ve seen the future and it isn’t orange. We need to get used to the direction of travel, the only difference being the speed of change, a Democrat/Labour (as voting direction in France and Germany, makes no difference) gets you there a lot faster. The GOP/Cons a little slower, with vestiges of hope ripped away a little bit here, a little bit there, same outcome though. I look forward to many, many more pieces like yours in the future, so we can have a good rant & vent session. Look at them go down there.

    • UnionJihack

      Ja ja, die Große Koalition [gähn].

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Time and tide waits for no man.

  • ohforheavensake

    Just going to mention that Time put Richard Nixon (a President who conspired to commit illegal acts in office) on its front cover. Rather a lot.


    – Of the two, I’d take Kanye West. Any day.

    • Ray Spring

      I prefer Nixon. Probably the best post-war American President.

    • Callipygian

      Proving that you are an ignorant -ss. But we already knew that.

      • Ray Spring

        Richard Nixon. A President who looked at the world, saw he could detach China from Russia and secure a great chance of peace. So he sent Kissenger to China, and showed the Chinese leadership the American spy photos of a Russian troop build up on the Chinese border. I agree with you that Nixon was good.

  • ohforheavensake
  • Bonkim

    Time, Life and Fortune, also Newsweek – all now memories of a golden age of journalism.

  • Malus Pudor

    Taki… you cling to a doomed Utopia…. there is no class, style or wit left in the modern world…. adieu….

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    It must have been the Time person of the year cover for 2006 that done it…

    YOU ..yes you. You control the Information Age

    Welcome to your world.

    It was quite touching, I thought, and look what’s happened since..

  • Garnet Thesiger

    “A little while, and the wicked will be no more;

    though you look for them, they will not be found”.

    We can but hope….

  • mercurius.

    Time magazine was the principal conduit of anti-communist propaganda in America and beyond during the Cold War, and while that was all well and good, America and the world has changed (obviously communism as an ideology is essentially history) and Time has, of course, changed with the times, meaning: the most saccharine (because it is the most readily and universally absorbed) propaganda of culturally vacuous economic neo-liberalism has been adopted by Time magazine as its new raison d’être to spread throughout America and the world.

  • GraveDave

    There’s a guy writes a Conservative blog, called Erik Rush. Predictably, being mixed race and right wing, he’s not as well received as he ought to be by either the whites or blacks. But he and the late Elizabeth Wright, also black,called it Negrophilia.

    Hollywood’s Never-Ending
    “Positive Portrayals”

    By Elizabeth Wright

  • jim

    This dumb rapper is a joke figure but he’s not the first tosser to wind up on the cover of Time Magazine.Bono was there thirty years ago.

    • Malus Pudor

      Yes, that puts it into perspective !

  • Verbatim

    Vale “Time”. I remember it well.

  • Fritz123