My Love Is in the Tabloids

One thing you see a lot of when working retail is tabloid headlines. Making fun of tabloids is like shooting fish in a barrel, but one thing that’s particularly struck me recently is how they try to sensationalize really mundane things. Oh my God, some famous person is getting married/getting divorced/having a baby! Yeah, people do these things all the time. And I’ve seen a few headlines recently about Miley Cyrus hitting rock bottom, or something along those lines. While perhaps based on something real (I saw on an entertainment show that was on in the break room that she recently revealed she’s had spells of really bad depression), it seems like they’re trying to sell her as a psycho. I can’t help but think that there were people who didn’t think of her infamous Video Music Awards performance as a carefully calculated and choreographed event that came off awkwardly but succeeded in putting her back in the public eye, but rather as an indication that she snapped, put on random clothes from her closet, and went up on stage to shake her scrawny butt at the VMAs without even being invited.

Really, I don’t see Miley’s appeal, but at the same time I can’t say I particularly have anything against her. She’s made some statements that made her sound smarter than she’s often portrayed, and while it’s sad that a celebrity being feminist and pro-gay isn’t just a given these days, sometimes you have to take what you can get. Mostly I think of her as someone who seems nice but kind of dull, which is more or less my point. If famous people aren’t going to be interesting, we’re going to take their humdrum lives and try to MAKE them sound interesting! How many times has Jennifer Aniston made headlines simply for being upset that a guy dumped her?

Nobody likes being dumped, but for some reason when it happens to a former sitcom star who popularized a haircut she actually hated, it’s news. I have to wonder if one reason celebrity relationships have a reputation for not working out is that even celebrities are obsessed with celebrities. By that, I mean someone might well think, “Hey, I’m famous now, so I can date that pop star I’ve had a crush on!” Then they date and find out they’re not really compatible. No big deal overall, but since celebrity relationships have to be publicized all over the checkout line, it ends up making it look like achieving a marginal level of fame automatically leads to an inability to commit. I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of celebrities who are just unfaithful jerks, but there are a lot of non-celebrities like that too. But hey, it’s not like I haven’t decided I particularly liked or disliked a famous person simply because of a rumor or an out-of-context quote. It’s ingrained in our culture, I suppose. It’s also weird that I think it’s kind of cute when actors who are already together play opposite each other, but pathetic when people who played a couple in a movie or television show get together for real. I remember when the tabloids played it as a big deal that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson broke up. Were they ever even actually dating, or did people just forget that the Twilight movies weren’t real? I think Lea Michele and the late Cory Monteith were dating at one point, and now there’s Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.

Even mockery of celebrity gossip has gotten rather tired, especially with the Internet. When Gwyenth Paltrow and that guy from Coldplay broke up, how many people on Twitter posted variations on “she must have finally heard his music”? I like the joke, but there’s nothing like social media to remind us how unoriginal we are. I don’t even know how many times I’ve come up with something I thought was clever, only to find out a whole bunch of other people said basically the same thing.

Speaking of celebrity news and humor, I guess everyone has heard by now that Stephen Colbert is slated to replace David Letterman on The Late Show, which honestly is kind of disappointing. I mean, it’s good for him, since I’m sure he’ll be making a lot more money, and he might want to expand his comedic repertoire. But is it good for America?

I don’t watch The Colbert Report regularly, but I find it consistently funny when I do. Maybe there’s an up-and-coming comedian who can mock personality-based propaganda masquerading as news as well as he can, but I don’t know who that would be. While at its heart there’s nothing new about a show that spoofs other shows or a comedian playing a buffoonish character, I feel there’s something fresh in the Report format, while late-night talk shows are somewhat past their prime (and I don’t mean prime-time, although that’s also true).

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4 Responses to My Love Is in the Tabloids

  1. I think it’s just been in the past few years that I really started to think about celebrity gossip mags/tabloids and what they actually do, how awful they are. It might have been because I got on Twitter, started following people of various levels of fame that actually tweet their own stuff and not just marketing stuff– and it becomes clear then that people are people are people, some are just more well-known than others; and then you look at the judgements the tabloids make on people and think, “Hey, wait, if that person wasn’t famous, people would be in an uproar about how disgustingly this mag is treating them. But somehow once someone becomes famous we all just accept that this is what they deserve? It’s heartless.” I’ve seen people say, like, “Well, they wanted to be famous, they just have to accept that this happens.” But NO, in most cases (all but like some reality TV stars?) people just wanted to do whatever thing they do that MADE them famous, act, play music, run the government, whatever (and in the case of royalty they had no say in it whatsoever– Hi Prince George, welcome to the world, now you’re on every magazine cover!), they became known for that and it was AWESOME, more opportunities to do the things they love for more people! but then suddenly everyone’s all ripping apart every thing you say, mocking what you wear, speculating on any fluctuation in your weight, jumping out at you with cameras when you just needed to run down to the store for some bread (and then judging you on the bread you picked), and everyone’s like, “hey, they’re famous, it’s what we do,” and I’m thinking, through some quirk of fate (and a whole lot more work and discipline on my part), I could publish a book that blows up into, as they say, The Next Harry Potter, and dude, I do NOT want to be treated the way the media treats JK Rowling! All she did was write a book (series) and people loved it– she NEVER asked for public scrutiny and violation of her family’s privacy. As soon as I started thinking of it like that– putting myself in JK Rowling’s shoes– I’ve never been able to look at a tabloid/celebrity gossip headline without cringing.

    • Nathan says:

      It sometimes seems like it’s best to remain at a level of fame where you’re pretty well received and make a good living, but not enough to be scrutinized. Or to purposely keep your private life out of the public eye, if you possibly can.

      • Even then there’s no guarantee that the world will LET you. Martin Freeman’s like that, and he’s usually pretty successful at it compared to like Brad Pitt or somebody, but even he runs into problems with, like, this picture somebody took of his kids out in public which keeps popping up on the Internet even though he and his wife and all their friends and everyone who CARES that they don’t want pictures of their kids on the internet keep trying to get them to take it down. And with his dry sense of humor, he’ll get throwaway lines taken out of context of interviews that people take way more seriously than he meant, and run with it. And the other day Amanda (his wife) posted that one of the British tabloids had ran a picture of him with a scare line about “LOOK HOW OLD HE LOOKS!” with a picture from years ago as a comparison… like, WHAT? Why? Stupidity.

      • Nathan says:

        I know trying to make it so celebrities’ kids aren’t Fair Game is a big concern nowadays.

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