Thursday, March 20, 2008

So, it's NOT just me?

So, I haven't been posting out of -- what? ennui? disgust? vague nausea? -- over the rabid, relentless hurtling of celebrity "news". It used to be so fun. Fun! And then it wasn't fun. It's become slim pickings and no sense of discovery and just grief at the real dramas that we're supposed to be jeering and sniggering at. I don't find it fun to watch addicts or the mentally ill or the morally addled teeter around on stilleto heels with cocktails in their hands. And it's always about the girls, isn't it? It's about some sort of deeply rooted misogyny in our culture being normalized through repetition. This is what you're worth, women; this is what you're worth.

It's like, let's focus on Diablo Cody's stripper past but not her awesome writing present? Boo. Seriously, BOO.

So I moved away from surfing the websites and reading the celebrity rags, which meant I couldn't comment about the ongoing developments here. And mostly I just thought it was me. Maybe I was just naturally becoming a better, deeper person by doing my own writing, reading all those novels I'd been meaning to read, watching documentaries from the library for hell's sake. (My continuing, gleeful participation in CSI and Law & Order marathons seems to contradict this assertion, somewhat.)

Then, there was last night's South Park, one of the most disturbing ever. Suffice it to say, it turned the Britney Spears travesty into material for a redo of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", reminding me of the scary intelligence behind the boys' potty humor. It was the best piece of horror I've seen in a while.

And today, this article about how the "celebrity culture" of the last few hectic years has gotten less fun and a bit more deranged:

So where does that leave those of us who enjoyed a few halcyon years of mindless celebrity coverage? For one thing, 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 at not spilling food on themselves than me. 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!"

People recently published a calming cover story about Drew Barrymore -- how she lost 20 pounds, gave a million dollars to world hunger relief, and is just as blissfully in love with her new boyfriend (they're talking babies!) as she has been with every other guy she's fallen blissfully in love with. This story made me happy, in precisely the same way that a 1950s Photoplay story about Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher might have: I don't care if it's crap. For the course of my morning subway ride, I was perfectly entertained.

What's missing, I think this article diagnoses correctly, is the happy part of celebrity watching. This madness is making no one happy. Not me anyway. And not the real creative folks, I think.

And this on a day when I had to comb through the news with a fine-toothed comb to find out about Anthony Minghella's unexpected death. That is as sure a tragedy as there is. Twenty bucks says he gets a one-sentence mention in People this week. If that.