Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gossip, Breakup Songs, and Tiaras

One of my guilty pleasures is People.com. I often read the news about celebrities to find out who broke up with whom this week, and who thinks that being famous means you don't have to pay taxes. I say it's a "guilty" pleasure since most of the articles are mainly just gossip; did you ever notice how most of the articles about celebrities don't actually include quotes from the celebrities themselves? Instead the articles include information from people who are supposedly "sources close to the star", which could mean anyone from the star's best friend to his or her hair stylist to some guy who stood fifty feet away from the celebrity once.

Ever since Prince William got engaged to Kate Middleton, their relationship has been all over the news. Every day there's a different headline on People.com and other gossip websites and magazines about their engagement and their upcoming wedding, because apparently William and Kate are the first couple EVER to get married. And I just have one question to ask:

                                   WHY DO WE CARE?

I must admit that I did have a crush on Prince William when I was sixteen. But then again I also thought that Skittles should be counted as one of the four food groups, and I thought that The Real World actually was real, and I wanted to be just like one of the cast members when I grew up. Now I kind of just want to challenge them to a duel and then when they show up to fight me I'll use a magic wand to zap them onto the Jerry Springer show and have one of the guests fight them and then I'll laugh maniacally as chairs are thrown and...

Wait. What was I talking about?

Anyway, I also admit that I am a little envious of Kate Middleton. Not because of William, because I'm not a starry-eyed sixteen year old girl with a crush anymore, obviously. I'm envious because the money that will be spent on her wedding dress would probably be enough to pay for a lifetime supply of Frappuccinos, or possibly enough to buy my own personal Starbucks, complete with a full staff of baristas ready to keep me caffeinated all the time. And that would rock.

I do have to wonder why Americans care so much about the Royal Family. No offense against the Royal Family, and definitely no offense against anyone reading this who lives in England. But seriously, why do we care? It's not like the prince's wedding impacts us in any way. It's not like we're going to be invited to the wedding. It's not like we will EVER meet the happy couple. We don't even have royalty in this country, despite the fact that certain politicians walk around as if they should be wearing tiaras and we should all be bowing down to them in adoration. So why should we care?

Maybe it's because Kate and William's story is like a fairy tale with paparazzi. And people like fairy tales and want to believe that they could actually come true.

I read the celebrity magazines not because I actually care about the celebrities, but because the magazines themselves are an escape. People magazine, for example, is the exact opposite of the "scholarly" books I have to read every day, as well as the students' papers that I have to grade. I don't have to analyze the articles I'm reading; I can just read them for fun.

I'd like to say that I'm mature and that I never judge the celebrities for their mistakes. But I do have to roll my eyes and shake my head when I hear about another famous person getting arrested while in the company of a porn star, or a musician getting married for the tenth time, or a young starlet flashing a late night talk show host. And besides, I judge EVERYONE.

Do you notice that the magazines rarely include articles about "real" people? When they do, the articles are about people who have committed crimes. What's also interesting is that I rarely find any articles about writers on People.com.

But sometimes the articles, particularly the headlines, get to me, because they often don't reveal anything about the famous people that I didn't already know. (And, sadly, I already know too much.) Here are just a few examples: (And these are actual headlines, and by actual, I mean I just made them up. But you just might see them in the next issue of People.)

Kate Chooses Nail Polish Color for Wedding: Tie-dye Is In!

Donald Trump Gets Cavity, Fires Dentist

Ashton Kutcher: How Twitter Saved My Marriage

"It's My Turn!": Prince Harry Announces Engagement to Snooki

Poll: What Kind of Wedding Cake Should William and Kate Get?

Jessica Simpson Shows off New Mohawk

The Top 10 Reasons Why Brangelina WILL NEVER GO AWAY

Contest or Conspiracy? Bristol Palin and Dancing with the Stars

Gwyneth Paltrow Uses Dictionary to Find Baby Names

I do feel sorry for celebrities, because they can't go anywhere without being photographed. Every move they make is overanalyzed and criticized by people who know nothing about what their lives are really like. People complain about the aggressiveness of the paparrazi, but the paparazzi wouldn't even exist if people weren't reading their magazines or checking out the latest photo of Britney Spears buying lunch. But then again, I don't feel THAT sorry for them, because they're good looking and so rich that their personal assistants have assistants. (Again, I must ask, WHY?)

I think that as William and Kate's wedding draws nearer, every third article will be about it. I guess the simplest solution would be to just stop reading People.com. And I will. As soon as I finish the latest article about Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift. They just had coffee together, which obviously means they'll get engaged and then break up; Taylor will write a song about Jake titled "You Done Me Wrong", and then they'll reconcile, move in together and adopt dogs that they will name after their costars. And it will all probably happen within the next week. Maybe I should use my magic wand...

What do you think of the celebrity magazines? Do you read them? Why do you think people are so fascinated by famous people?


  1. Haha, for someone who reads them, you sure have a lot of negative thoughts about them. I can't say I read celebrity magazines, although I have a celeb blog that I occasionally check just in case something exciting happens. (He has never once mentioned the Kate/William marriage. He likes to post bikini photos. I totally love the site though because I feel like it's the SparkNotes of celebrity news.)

  2. I don't buy them but I flick through them if I'm at the doctor and having to wait. Why are we fascinated? Maybe it's what we all dream of, but know would be bad for us in oh so many ways!

  3. Even some celebrities read celebrity magazines, and maybe not just to find themselves.

    We all believe in the fairytale - handsome couple, cute kids, lots of money to spend, nice clothes, grand house. Secret wishes.

    As for The Real World - nobody should want to become like the new housemates anymore. That show became so horrid!

  4. Hi gem,
    I have negative thoughts about them because I read about them too much. Or maybe it's because they're so rich.

    Hi Fran,
    I think their lives are bad for the celebrities too, which might explain why so many of them get arrested a lot.

    Hi Theresa,
    The Real World has definitely become horrid. I wish they would cancel it. I also wish they would cancel every reality show on MTV, except for the ones where they actually help people, like The Buried Life and Made.
    It would be nice to live in a grand house. Maybe not a castle, though. I might get lost. :)

  5. I'll say the same thing I say to my wife. Gossip destroys peoples lives. Let them come to work, do their job and leave. That is just my opinion though. The whole prince thing... Shrug.

    Since I am new to blogging, I'm leaving my link after I comment. I hope you don't mind.

    Draven Ames

  6. I'll confess. I watch E News once in a while. I think I watch it for the same reason I read. To escape my own life for a minute. Plus, I like to see what they're wearing. Lame! Can't believe I'm admitting to that. I'm not even a shopper and I definitly don't dress to impress (much). I watch. I shake my head. I "know" who's dating who. Guilty. Thanks for the post! christy

  7. Hi Draven,
    Gossip definitely can be destructive. Maybe that's why so many celebrities have run-ins with paparazzi; I guess they just get so fed up with it.

    Hi Christy,
    I do like to see what they're wearing too, because so many of the dresses are beautiful. It's just as well that I can't afford them, because where am I going to wear them? :)

  8. I love your headlines, especially the 1 w/ Gwyneth Paltrow using a dictionary to find baby names!

    Yes, I too occasionally read People mag. Note the word occasionally, meaning every few months. It's a gossip rag that reveals next to nothing about the celebs & other flavors of the week.

    The interest in the Royal Family stems from the fact that they have a life of privilege & we don't. You're right, the cost of Kate's wedding dress alone would be worth an entire Starbucks shop in the busiest section of Chicago. I'll buy the People magazine that shows the actual wedding because that will be a collector's item in a few years.

  9. Hi notesfromnadir,
    I wouldn't be surprised if celebrities actually did use dictionaries to find baby names. It's interesting how it's usually just the famous people often use the unusual names.
    You're totally right about People magazine not revealing anything. It's ironic because it claims to reveal everything, but when you read the articles they never really say much.