The Best Media Writing of the Week

Keeping up with the Winklevii: Where the Kardashians and the Twins Meet

It's the Best Media Writing of the Week

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The Winklevoss twins in their pistachios commercial
The Winklevoss twins in their pistachios commercial

Because Freud worked in a pre-Kardashian epoch -- sad for him! -- he probably never thought to come up with an Eros or Thanatos to explain the lust for fameball wealth, a drive or itch that would explain the need to get married on TV only to get divorced everywhere a few months later or, if you're the Winklevoss twins, to maintain a long legal battle even after your initial lawsuit is settled and its zombie version dismissed.

This week a Vanity Fair profile of Mark Zuckerberg's most genetically-interesting bete noires conspired with the Kim-Kris split to remind us that the drive itself is the thing.

The ownership agita suffered by a pair of already-rich, WASP-handsome Harvard rowers in Facebook's infant days was compelling enough to catalyze the plot of an acclaimed movie, grabbing the pair an unusual role in culture that 's led them to become pistachio pitchmen and who knows what else. To Dana Vachon, a novelist and keeper of a great-but-difficult Twitter feed, the Winklevii drop hints of global expansion and promise to ramble onward in their quest for "justice," by which they mean the bigger chunk of Facebook they feel they would own if it weren't for some inept lawyering. On a spur-of -the-moment road trip to Mexico, Mr. Vachon and the twins pause for beer and a soccer game, brushing the locals with whatever passes for fame these days:

More people now recognized the Winklevosses as either themselves or a recently cloned Armie Hammer, and Felipe [a young local they'd encountered] assumed the proprietary grandeur of a Victorian circus impresario before some engagingly deformed beast. "These are the ones who came up with the idea for the Facebook, but had it stolen from them," he explained to one and all, in Spanish. "But don't ask them that . If you do, they might get offended."

The Mexican soccer team defeated America 4-2, a victory sweetened by the presence of a compound American marvel, Harvard-pedigreed, Hollywood-certified, flesh-made-celluloid, celluloid-made-flesh. They signed autographs, received party invitations, and posed for iPhone pictures with locals who examined the photos as soon as they got their phones back, finger-zooming in and out with awe of self, child-like, fleetingly possessed of the primitive wonder which ascribes photography directly to magic, and once inspired fear of Xerox machines, and keeps the millions wondering why they can't stop staring at a Web site whose greatest debt will always be to Pavlov.

Herman Cain denied the allegations.
Herman Cain denied the allegations. Credit: Herman Cain for President

If accounts of the sexual-harrassment charges against Herman Cain felt a bit gossipy, that 's OK, argues Gawker's John Cook, so long as those exercises in she-said, she-said reportage don't pop up on news outlets that otherwise position themselves above such coverage. A clean line of reasoning!

Gossip has a place. Right here, for a start. Anonymous accusations have a place. And details or no, the stories surrounding Cain all week were having an impact on the race and were legitimate targets of coverage. But it would be nice if they weren't being covered by the same people who are usually decrying the decline in journalistic standards and posing as the last honorable reporters.

You can be "the gold standard of newsgathering and reporting throughout the world," as the AP self-righteously claims to be as it dismisses bloggers as pajama-clad parasites, or you can report that some lady thinks Cain is a sex creep for unspecified reasons. You can't do both.

Claude Brodesser-Akner, a former Ad Age writer, had a nice one on New York magazine's Vulture blog, explaining a highly unusual -- and highly likely to fail -- Hollywood deal: Sony's purchase of the rights to adapt the very popular video game "Assassin's Creed":

With Creed one of the highest-selling modern game franchises (three installments have sold 30 million copies globally), Ubisoft was able to demand and receive an unheard of amount of control over the project. To make the deal, Sony had to grant the gaming company approval over just about everything -- budget, principal cast, script, release date -- and Hollywood spectators are flabbergasted. Notes one incredulous insider, "As a director, even Steven Spielberg cannot get this kind of deal." And yet it's this very overarching power that may doom the project, as it has other gigantic video game movies. Notes one Hollywood talent agent who represents a smaller video game publisher, "The whole Ubisoft/Sony deal is a waste of ink, paper and time. The level of control Sony gave up means, effectively, that Assassin's Creed will never -- and I mean never -- get made."

Besides explaining why we might feel a quickened pulse while watching home run or a hail mary, Le Anne Schreiber's Grantland piece about mirror neurons also gives us good scientific reason to mute Joe Buck and Tim McCarver once and for all:

Doing an informal study of my own unrealistically youthful mirror neurons before talking to [UCLA neuroscientist Marco] Iacoboni, I watched some Monday Night Football and noticed that I felt more intensely involved in the game when I turned off the sound, so I asked if announcers got in the way of our mirror neurons by engaging us in constant analysis.

"Absolutely," Iacoboni said. "We actually have some data on that . Being analytical almost shuts down your motor cortex, doesn't let you simulate in full what you are watching. I shut the sound off while watching tennis."

What better way to celebrate the Groupon IPO than with a properly snarky flowchart from The New York Observer's BetaBeat? Find out whether you should have invested here.

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