celebrity gossip: a guilty pleasure indeed
[shahd-n-froi-duh] –noun satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune
Who cares if (insert A, B, or C-list celebrity here) is “fat and drunk”? Oh… apparently, many of us do. Otherwise, why is garbage like this everywhere? Over the past few days, I have been repeatedly forced to look at a horrifying photo of Britney Spears that includes the powerful headline of “Britney Fat and Drunk”? I can’t help but notice it since the photo is larger than any other one on the page. The ad probably wouldn’t be there for so long if nobody was clicking it. This brings to mind some things I’ve contemplated with irritation for a while. Why is society so obsessed with celebrities and their every issue? Why do we care enough to click on this ad that generates money through the humiliation of a human being?
Unless I am a fan of a celebrity, I have no real interest in their life and even I am a fan, I certainly won’t look for news about their every action. Therein lies the problem; there is such an overabundance of exposure that we never have to go out of our way to see or hear about the latest gossip. In fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid. Wherever you turn, you are forced to witness the ubiquitous nonsense. Whether it be tabloids at the supermarket featuring a pregnant celeb who is also an alcoholic/anorexic/arachnophobe, news headlines divulging the latest reality television couple break-up/hook-up/ten-minute marriage, blogs based solely on stalking famous people and their every cellulite-exposing move, or even advertisements on almost every ad-funded site, there is no escape! I honestly make every effort not to pick up these tabloids or click on these articles, blogs, ads, etc. but on occasion, I do fall victim to the part of my brain that seeks mindless distraction and find myself paying attention to a certain story. The difference is that when I am interested, it’s usually about an artist I admire. Of course, I doubt that everyone who follows senseless or exploitative celebrity stories does so out of admiration or concern.
The same way a bully gets off on the pain of others, there is something truly sadistic about this phenomenon. Finding amusement in the lives of others has probably been around since the beginning of humankind and I’m not going to pretend I’ve never taken part. We are curious creatures who like to be entertained. Corporations know how to pull us in using human nature as bait. It’s a pretty astute business strategy that has clearly shown great success and growth — a dangerous level of growth.
Since I’ve become aware of this and what else the industry entails, I refuse to give in. I ask every human being who wants to change this backwards world of ours to do the same. Stop clicking. Change the station or channel. Look away from the tabloid. Does it really contribute anything meaningful to your life? No, instead it contributes to your spiritual, moral, and cultural breakdown and to that of our society. In turn, it enables crime of the worst kind. It keeps us distracted while the most heinous offenses of our time are committed without hesitation or punishment. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the few big bank accounts it contributes to as well. Not only do I not want to support those that are behind this spectacle and the general deterioration it helps bring about but I would rather live my life than get caught up in the exploitation of someone else’s. I would rather create real memories from real experiences than live vicariously through sensationalized stories of strangers. Wouldn’t you?
(written on Mar. 06, 2008 but just as relevant today— if not more, slightly revised)