"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 20 October 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.

    Neve Campbell


Investing the phrase "egg on your face" with rich, new significance, Suck is proud to announce the recipients of its first annual Evil Genius Grants. Over the next 10 days, the Suck EGG honorees, as selected by Suck's blue ribbon panel of experts, will be profiled on this page. Included are standouts in fields as diverse as pop music and pop-music criticism, film acting and film directing, magazine punditry and television punditry. But unlike those humdrum, dime-per-dozen MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants, each Suck EGG fellowship is offered not for such narrow purposes as "rewarding outstanding achievement" or celebrating the "power and possibilities of human creativity." Nor are they extended to those whose work represents the "greatest benefit to mankind," like the recently announced Nobel Prizes.

Instead, the Suck EGGs provide an infinitely more valuable service to humanity: Namely, each fellowship is granted only on the condition that for the next calendar year, in the interests of Human Civilization, its recipients stop doing the voodoo that they do so annoyingly well. (To prevent welshing, actual prizes are not conferred until the completion of each term.) Those who aspire to the heights of EGGdom in the future should realize that, by definition, it is impossible for us to accept applications - since this is an award not for who you are, but who you will cease to be.

- Sucksters

  Back in 1994, Party of Five gave us Neve Campbell, and Neve gave us Julia, the star orphan of the Salinger brood. Since then, the reliably wistful twenty-something has ascended the ranks of teen royalty, playing the Everygirl everybody wants to kill in Scream and Scream 2, before receiving a de facto coronation in the part of 54's dewy soap-opera queen - a role whose Barthian depths of self-reference we can never wholly fathom.

It's easy to forget how revelatory Campbell seemed when Party of Five debuted (barely post-grunge, set to music by Live and REM). Her brothers just yelled a lot, and her colicky-phenom sister, Claudia, was the least likable TV kid since Small Wonder's Tiffany Brissette. But Julia was casual and natural. No fussy method acting for her - she was a minimalist. She squinted. With a smiley face, it meant she was happy. Without one, she was sad. Eventually she would speak, and, during her effort to force out a few words amid the swelling chords of "Everybody Hurts," her inarticulateness passed for depth: Her pursed lips hinted that she was groping for the right word to say.

Along the way, her character has broken some barriers for American-TV sweethearts. Julia actually has sex, she's become pregnant (though a timely miscarriage helped her out of any tough choices), dropped out of college, and married. Ultimately, though, Julia, the patron saint of tortured words, still just squints in time to the soundtrack - while the songs have changed, the plot remains the same. Now when she struggles for her words, we can readily anticipate her leaden maxim. Everybody hurts? What if God were one of us? I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel?

What we're left with is a legacy of flustered imitators. Ally McBeal tidily blurts out the show's moral after an hour of charmingly indecipherable mutterings. And once in every episode, and often more, the camera simply studies Calista Flockhart's face as the show's resident torch singer belts out Ally's true feelings. A supposedly smart character like Lindsay Dole on The Practice, who brings the tobacco industry to its knees in court, lapses into incoherence, Julia-syle, when it turns to matters of the heart. And in supposedly post-navel-gazing (but midriff-revealing) shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, and That '70s Show - where teens actually speak to one another in complete, and sometimes clever, sentences - squinting still seems to be currency that's traded for thought. Maybe we should really be blaming Claire Danes for all of this, but her show got cancelled.

Age: 26
Residence: Los Angeles
Total grant amount: First crack at every role Reneé Zellweger turns down in the next two years.

courtesy of the Sucksters