07/30/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Judging Newsweek By Its Cover, Instead Of By That Awkward Gillian Anderson Interview

This weekend on Gawker, Ian Spiegelman mocked a Newsweek interview with X-Files series-and-movie star Gillian Anderson wherein the interviewer opened with, "I've got to confess. I don't know anything about The X-Files." Not surprisingly, it went downhill from there (that is, if you're interested in the X-Files movie or cogent interviews). It's sort of amazing that an interviewer for a major newsweekly would ever open with "I don't know anything about what I'm interviewing you about," and I wondered who had conducted the interview. The truth is out there: Turns out it was Newsweek associate editor Ramin Setoodeh, who missed the X-Files craze by about a decade, though of course there are DVDs for such things.

Anyhow: Gawker called it passive-aggressive, HuffPo called it awkward, I called it a missed opportunity to find out if Mulder and Scully finally get it on, but what it did was lead me to Setoodeh's much better, totally redeeming cover story this week, about the complicated and tragic story of 15-year-old Lawrence King, who liked to wear sparkly makeup and stiletto heels and flirt aggressively with his teenaged male classmates. One of these boys was Brandon McInerney, who did not like being the object of Larry's affection, and one morning in the computer lab he pulled out a gun and shot Larry twice in the head. He died two days later.

The story is gripping, and complicated, exploring not only what happened in this situation but what the implications are of gay teenagers, now coming of age in a world where gay marriage, gay public figures and gay characters in film and TV are commonplace, coming out younger and younger. It's not only about gay hate crimes — echoing Matthew Shepard and Shorty Hall — but also about the tension in the school system between allowing personal (read: sexual) expression and staying on top of destablilizing social forces between kids. It's really well-written and reported, and obviously took a lot more time and care than that Gillian Anderson interview.

So what's the takeaway? I'd say that Setoodeh's painful interview should actually be judged by his terrific cover, except this is the internet age, so the runner-up is to remind magazines that nowadays, people can read your stuff without having the slightest idea what else is in the magazine. And also, that Time knows all about the X-Files.

Gillian's Still a Bit Spacey [Newsweek]
Murder In The Eighth Grade [Newsweek]

Gillian Anderson Hands Annoying Interviewer His Ass [Gawker]
The 100 Best TV Shows of All Time [Time]