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Monday, Mar 04, 2002

the infotainer

"In the intervening 45 years the wardrobe and lingo have changed some, and the relative power of various players has shifted. But as a benchmark of modern cultural history, ''Sweet Smell'' is more like the end of a beginning than the beginning of any end. Since the film's release, the infotainment-industrial complex grew exponentially from post-vaudeville germination to the all-subsuming 500-channel efflorescence of global media-movie-music conglomerates; gossip columns and crypto-gossip columns began appearing in more and more magazines and newspapers, including this one; celebrity became both indiscriminately fungible and a genuine national obsession; murky symbioses between journalists and publicists grew more widespread and entrenched; and a sneering, clued-in, ''Sweet Smell'' cynicism about the quid pro quo bargains for fame and success became the standard American take. Hunsecker and Falco are monsters, but they're also pioneers, founding fathers of the world we inhabit now."