Today's Times offers a sophisticated exegesis of the Suri Cruise Vanity Fair spread. Roving critic Caryn James starts by hitting all the usual notes ("What 5-month-old has a stylist? Or photos taken by Annie Leibovitz?" and "The extravagantly orchestrated photo shoot reveals a media circus masquerading as ordinary life, and speaks to the devil's bargain some celebrities make with the public.") But then things take a turn for the worse, as James criticizes Leibovitz's photography ("not her best," "pretty but ordinary") and exculpates the press ("No one really thought Suri was imaginary or some creature from another planet." Oh really?) and suggests that Tom get former publicist Pat Kingsley back (we're sure he's just been waiting for that advice from the Times.)

One of the more interesting criticisms is against Vanity Fair features editor Jane Sarkin, who wrote the piece. James accuses her of complicity with the Cruises. Leaving aside the fact that, you know, no one was expecting a hard-charging expose of Tomkatsur*, James does have a point. The profile is pretty soft even by puff piece standards. What's the deal? Maybe a recent interview with Jane will shed some light:

Who are a few celebrities you've met?

My favorite is Tom Cruise, because he was really interested in my family and my children. He's making a movie about my brother Jon.

Now we understand why Tom wanted to go to Vanity Fair: He knew what he was going to get out of the gate. Oh, right, and because it's so classy. Definitely the class factor.

A Rich Coat of Gloss on a Trajectory Spiraling Down [NYT]

Vanity Fair Editor Jane Sarkin [TeenInk]

Related: Metamorphosis [Jon Sarkin]

*Don't worry, we're just trying it out. It probably won't last.