Thursday, March 20, 2008

Musings on the state of celebrity journalism

I don't remember how, but earlier today, I stumbled across this Salon article about celebrity gossip. It actually made reference to the Atlantic Monthly article about being a papparazzo on the trail of Britney that I read yesterday. Which was totally the point of last night's South Park.

But I digress.

I started reading the article at my desk while eating my lunch and I laughed out loud enough times that I decided that, in order to prevent choking, it would be best to put down my fork until I got to the end. Here are the most ridiculous morsels, with commentary:

  • ". . . all I could do was stare at my candy-colored cover choices, recognize in some dazed way that I didn't know what a Heidi or a Spencer was. . . ."
Man, I miss that feeling. I kept hearing those names, along with L.C. and Brody, and I had no idea who these people were. Alas, then I stumbled across an episode of The Hills and now I wish I could go back to the earlier, more innocent time.
  • "Perhaps the biggest shift in how we ingest our gossip, though, is the feeling of over-saturation and over-stimulation. We have gorged ourselves on nip-slips and sex tapes and divorce proceedings to the point of queasiness at the idea of consuming another morsel of celebrity meat. Or maybe that's just me."
It's just you, hon. How else can you explain the number of magazines that are being sold, the number of gossip websites and blogs, or the fact that Jennifer Lopez sold her babies' first pictures to People for god-knows-how-much. Just because two magazines folded doesn't mean the celebrity gossip industry is going down. My suspicion is that it has more to do with the nature of print journalism.
  • ". . . a slew of midlevel actors . . . were only likely to make really juicy national headlines if they did something incontrovertibly nutty, hopefully in front of a wandering photographer: Julia Roberts ditching Keifer Sutherland before their wedding, Rob Lowe bedding an underage chick at the Democratic convention, married Bruce Springsteen cavorting in his skivvies with the girl in his band on a Rome rooftop."
How is this any different than Britney marrying her childhood friend on a drunken whim in Vegas or Brad Pitt ditching Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie and then adopting half of the world's population?
  • Picking up an US Weekly no longer guarantees a visit with a cast of familiar characters, but a roster of mysterious names: Minka Kelly, Benji Madden, Stacy Keibler -- who the hell are these people and what are they doing in my imagined celebrity neighborhood?
Just because you don't know or really care about them doesn't make them non-celebrities. And people have been famous for being famous for as long as there's been such things.
  • "And to read up on those names I do recognize, I no longer need to turn to the tabloids. Not when Wall Street Journal writer Asra Nomani is writing Op-Eds for the L.A. Times about Britney Spears, or the Atlantic is putting her on its cover. . . .When Heath Ledger died in his Manhattan apartment, it was the New York Times that led the coverage of the story, and by the time the celebrity weeklies hit stands after the death of Anna Nicole Smith, CNN had been covering the story for four days in a row, with more vigor than it might apply even to a tight primary contest."
So let me get this straight: Celebrity gossip is dead because the mainstream media is doing it? That so does not make sense.
  • ". . . I find myself longing for a return to some old-fashioned canned stories cooked up by publicists and pegged to movie releases. I'm over stars being just like me, or worse off than me. I would like them to be different, and more glamorous, and better . . . I would like to read about their attractive homes and perfect relationships and healthy but satisfying Zone diets and think to myself: "Well, easy for them! They're celebrities!""
Clearly, you're not reading the right magazines. Put down the US Weekly and try Vogue or Glamour or In Style or even Vanity Fair if you just want to see celebrities all dressed up and leading enviably perfect and interesting lives.

No comments: