Maxim rethinks its position on Sarah Jessica Parker

When readers of Maxim see next month’s issue, they might be tricked into thinking the tacky men’s magazine has made nice with Sarah Jessica Parker, the actress it infamously voted the World’s Unsexiest Woman last year. Parker topped a list of so-called ugly women that included Amy Winehouse, Sandra Oh, Madonna and Britney Spears.

Maxim was roundly criticized for the list and the 43-year-old Sex And The City star was candid with the press about how much the dubious honor hurt her, telling one interviewer, the list was “brutal, in a way. It’s so filled with rage and anger.”

Next month, Maxim does a 180 on its earlier judgment, naming Parker its “Unexpected Crush,” but insiders say the “honor” still contains an insult-laden joke.

Is this what the power of the press has been reduced to? Have we all reverted back to the 8th grade? Remember passing terribly catty notes about classmates we were jealous of or threatened by? Sometimes we made fun of them, sometimes, unfortunately, we picked on their physical attributes because it was, again, the 8th grade, what else did we have going on? It’s not like we could be snarky about each other’s jobs or spouses or whom we voted for.

It’s not just mens’ mags like Maxim. Famed film critic Rex Reed wrote a review of Sex And The City for the New York Observer in which he spent an entire paragraph crudely insulting Parker’s appearance and specifically, the cute mole on her face. (Parker recently had the mole removed. Coincidence?).

Can I go on the record saying I think Sarah Jessica Parker is one of the coolest, wittiest, most stylish and beautiful women on the planet? Every time I read an interview with her or, even better, see her on television being interviewed, I am awed by her sharpness and her great sense of humor. This is a woman who has been famous since she was a pre-teen (yay, Square Pegs!) yet, she exhibits a down-to-earthness that is real and refreshing.

To those who say Parker is a star and stars enter into fame knowing good and well that they will be scrutinized and criticized, I say: when Parker first got famous, things were different. There were no blogs. There were very little paparazzi. Celebrities were covered in People magazine and on the occasional Barbara Walters special. It was a simpler, more civilized time.

Nowadays, civility is out the door. We all log onto Perez Hilton‘s popular celebrity site knowing we’ll read trash talk, but that mean-spiritedness has now found its way into the mainstream. Those of us made uncomfortable by such catty comments could choose to stay off the blogs, but now, with insults popping up in movie reviews, it’s a whole new ballgame. What’s next? Will the ladies of The View make fun of guests’ weight to their faces? Will Larry King tell a politician he needs a nose job? Will anchormen comment on the presidential candidates’ pockmarks?

Parker’s right. It’s brutal out there. My fear is we’ll become desensitized to it. I worry that adolescent kids today are encouraged by the bad behavior of the adults around them. Heck, I worry about us — the adults. I can’t figure out what is motivating us to bring out our inner 13-year-old. Are we feeling ignored? Unpopular? Do we feel ugly ourselves? Are we jealous? Why are we all sitting around making fun of each other?

What do you think? Have you been outraged recently by something you read in a magazine or heard on mainstream TV? Are you bummed out by the culture of catty? Or do I need to lighten up?

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