While on the elliptical machine, I watched TMZ on mute and found it hard to swallow the inanity of the images flashing by using scratchy, splotchy edits of the pop-culture trash smorgasbord. Without words, the ideas area actually easier to follow. Someone showed their cooter while getting out of a limo (accidentally) and who it was I have no idea. Michael Keaton drove a Batmobile in Toronto, oh wait no, it was a lookalike of Michael Keaton in his home-made Batmobile. Oh god, writing these things is making me feel stupid. But, I realized what was making me upset was that these “reporters” had such nonsense jobs.
I could do what they do for pay. No, I’m not a celebrity or a great actor, but I could follow reality stars and actors and athletes and report on their ice cream eating habits, or their vacation in Bali. Oh no, another trip to the South Pacific to take pictures from a coconut tree of Meryl Streep in a bikini. You mean I have to hang out on the strip and snap a quick photo of Leo holding hands with a fancy pants blonde babe?
I enjoy handsome people, I enjoy getting paid, I like taking good pictures. Of course I understand the media machine and its desire to get unflattering pictures or surprising stars without makeup and thereby taking them down a peg to our plebeian level, and the moral issues it raises with privacy. But, I feel that when you leave your home, you are in public and must be treated as such.
It’s just that when you or I or anybody else who isn’t named Clooney leaves the house nobody really cares except the dog. They must deal with it and stop complaining about having no privacy, of course you do, it’s called your multi-million dollar, ten bedroom, enormous living room house. When the celebrity loving culture started in America is hard to pinpoint, but what is not, is that there is no end in sight.
We (“royal we”) love trash rags, we love all the E! channels and paparazzi paraphernalia. They help us ignore life’s little boredoms, insecurities and crushing disappointments. When we sit on the beach and reach for the InStyle instead of the novel, when we see Britney’s cottage cheese thighs and feel less upset by our own, when we saw Amy Winehouse’s sodden, tired face of internal strife or Octomom weighed down by her litter at a Trader Joe’s parking lot, we smirk inside.
Sure, some don’t outwardly watch reality shows or catch up on pop gossip, but it always slips through the cracks of your planned aversions. Anyone between 20-30 can name a Jersey Shore cast member. Anyone between 30-40 can tell you about their favorite Real World cast. And if they can’t, you don’t know who they are (or they’re playing the too cool game.)
The point is, Bono’s line of “when fact is fiction, and TV reality” has become way too true. We read books or see movies about death, murder, wars and rape in the guise of fiction when it happens all around us. We see the TV blaring images of what is beauty or what is funny or what is cool, when we should be able to decide for ourselves. Working class slobs and aristocratic snobs have always existed, but it used to be the slobs hated the posh jerks, now we wear their clothes and their labels like brands of honor.
These are Louboutin shoes, these are Armani jeans, this is Beyonce perfume–who cares? We build these people up to be more than the flawed, farting, internally feeble folks we all are. But, TMZ reports on them, shows us their daily lives, their ups, downs, bad hair days, jacket stains, jogging outfits and anything else they can find. It is cool with me that we appreciate talent in acting and sports, and they probably earn their paycheck through dedication and hard work. I just don’t want to care about the behind the scenes stuff, but TMZ puts it right in my face, and what, am I going to look away, I still got 20 minutes left on my treadmill.