Gossip Girl

XOXO? I don't think so.

chinesefood

I’ve never understood the appeal of celeb-focused rags that divulge the eating habits of Jennifer Aniston or the love life of Jennifer Lawrence. Give me a few years and I’ll probably become my dad who confuses the two just because they have the same name. I don’t care what Taylor Swift looks like without makeup on, which movie stars have cellulite or if all of five members of One Direction are rumored to be gay. I actually just had to google “How many members are there in One Direction?” in order to come up with that number.

Being able to tell you that I don’t read Us Weekly is how I imagine someone who doesn’t watch television must feel. Mindy Kaling touched on the very same feeling in this week’s episode of The Mindy Project, where she-as-Dr. Lahiri dates someone who would rather read about the history of the telescope than watch Real Housewives. She feels uncultured and inadequate, and where I previously found her preference for pop culture versus world news to be charming I suddenly felt myself cringing at her character’s blatant disregard of anything slightly outside her comfort zone.

And then last night my own smug self-perception came to light as I finished reading a New York Times article on my way to the ballet. “I feel like such an adult,” I thought to myself. One who does things like taking a cab to the ballet while reading the New York Times on my phone instead of checking Instagram. But post-ballet I found myself eating mac ‘n’ cheese and discussing which Dancing With the Stars contestant had lost the most weight with a friend. “I’m just as bad as Mindy,” I thought to myself. Only guess what? She’s a fictional character. And what am I? No better than the gossip fodder her real life garners.

So what is it that drives me — or more largely us — to reach for this type of juicy non-news that entertains at the expense of others? Reading gossip magazines is like eating cheap Chinese food: once you finish it, you instantly crave more. It’s delicious but you feel dirty every time. I don’t like or seek out either but put both in front of me and I will consume every last scrap.

The article that I mentioned I read while on my way to the ballet was, interestingly enough, about a married couple: two longtime gossip columnists notorious for their sharp tongues and disregard for hurting others in the name of reporting what many actually do consider news.

This — perhaps in an effort to pull myself out of my own self-loathing spiral for realizing that I too enjoy trashy magazines as much as the next person – got me thinking about the people who write the rumor columns or take the cellulite photos. If I feel uncomfortable with the fact that I’m a consumer of such media, what about those who create it? Do they enjoy it? Feel remorse? Is it all in the name of a paycheck or do they believe that celebrities deserve the slander they accrue simply by virtue of being celebrities?

I don’t know. I guess that’s why I’m asking. Do you read gossip columns? Fault the people who supply us with the information or yourself for giving in to the craving? We all do it, and as often as I tell myself that I’m only going read about history from here on out, I know that the next time I’m at my gyno’s office, I’m going to pick up that copy of People.

“Did you know that she’s pregnant again?,” I might say to a stranger sharing the couch with me while pointing a shocked finger to a poor celebrity who got snapped in an unforgiving pose.

They’ll probably look at me through squinty, judgmental eyes, probably wondering if I know where Alaska is, and then reply, “That magazine is five years old. And, ma’am, I think you have duck sauce on your shirt.”

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Thoughts?
  • Joshua Michael

    ” If I feel uncomfortable with the fact that I’m a consumer of such media, what about those who create it? Do they enjoy it? Feel remorse? Is it all in the name of a paycheck or do they believe that celebrities deserve the slander they accrue simply by virtue of being celebrities?”

    This is exactly what’s wrong with our country. We need to stop worrying about other people (who don’t f******* matter btw) and worry about ourselves. Celebrities are still people too and I couldnt even imagine reading negative shit about me every single day, i think it’s down right terrible. I think your boy Kanye hit it right on the head in his interview with Jimmy Kimmel when he said something along the lines of “The media is trying to break us [celebrities] every day, constantly trying to kill our dreams and ambitions. That’s why I make it a point to constantly try to break media”. freakin genius that guy…

    • Carrie

      Apparently, he thinks so too.

      • Joshua Michael

        haha when you are, you are and hes just not afraid to say it. I’ve long thought he is the biggest dickhead but hes starting to grow on me as a person. He actually talks about the whole “self proclaimed genius” thing in the interview and you know what?….i like his explanation

    • Annie Moss

      As someone who has a genius i.q., I can tell you that Kanye West is not the kind of “genius” he thinks he is. He’s a profound musical genius, but he’s not the kind of guy who will be reforming education (or whatever he said) or changing the world like Steve Jobs. Also, his self-comparison to Jesus is simply moronic.

      Anyway, he should appreciate his gifts for what they are, and be modest enough to recognize other people’s unique talents. I don’t think Steve Jobs would be a very good rapper, but at least he knew better than to try.

  • Aubrey Green

    I personally don’t care about any of that, but, I, like you will read the magazine if in front of me, or if I see an ‘interesting story’ on the cover of the magazine, if not for the benefit of not knowing any of that information when it’s given to me by someone else. Is some of that stuff meant to help us mere mortals know that, celebrities are in fact real people too, ironically, or not, it’s making celebrities possibly, but doubtful feel bad about something they did/said/wore/are and us feel better for when we read/look at the Fashion Magazines and photos that make celebrities out to be these perfect beings? I am not agreeing with, nor condoning any of this said behavior, I am just making an observation based off of this article and the one just written about regarding Kate Winslet’s Vogue cover. Also, the whole photoshop, well photoshop can also be used in a negative way as well, so who’s to say any of that is even real/true – Hollywood is just not real. ?. (not that the people aren’t, obviously) – There are 3 sides to every story, “your side, their side and the truth”, we shall never know – Happy reading.

    • Amelia Diamond

      i like this: There are 3 sides to every story, “your side, their side and the truth”

  • Amatoria Clothing

    The magazines exist because people buy them. The reality television exists because people watch it. This is why it pisses me off when people say they watch a ridiculous show like Honey Boo Boo, and claim that they watch it because it is so stupid and everything wrong with the world. By watching or buying these things, you are basically increasing the demand. It’s like voting for more of this to happen.
    Everything you purchase and watch (or DON’T) tells an industry whether they should produce more or less of these things. And most marketing is aimed at women. So we have the power to decide what is produced in this country and around the world (and HOW it is produced).

  • Sara Keller

    Someone said “kimye” to me a couple weeks ago. I acted cool but had to google it when I left! Kanye is safe from me.

  • tituba

    I enjoy reading ONTD, which is a livejournal that posts celebrity gossip as well as interesting pop culture based opinion articles. I like it because sometimes the user comments are hilarious and they poke fun at the ridiculousness of some of the headlines. You shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying something so low brow and I always find it laughable when people judge you for for knowing things about celebrity culture. So knowing obscure facts is bad as opposed to…what? As if!

  • Lydia

    I love reading gossip rags but I also enjoy reading more ‘intellectual’ pieces; while I used to feel the sense of shame when I was reading a gossip magazine or when my friends would make fun of my high knowledge of celebrity culture, I’ve realised that there’s nothing wrong with it. I see it simply as a hobby and something I do just because I find them light and easy to read, and that doesn’t equate to ‘dumbing myself down’ or mean I lack intelligence. I don’t fault the people providing us with the magazines (however I’m a bit biased because I’m studying law/journalism and defend writers!), but I also don’t fault the people reading them; I just think it comes down to choice and reading/producing a gossip mag shouldn’t result in personal shame or people thinking any less of your intellectual ability.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Well, ages and ages and ages ago, our ancestors were allowed to adore and fear all those multiple deities, before the right one came along. Maybe our modern, genetically old brains still crave to live in a world where different “elevated” persons who represent certain principles (male sexiness, female sexiness, fertility, lack of fertility, beauty, bravery…) keep us busy and distracted from reality … :-)

    (I’d prefer to read other stories in modern media, it seems almost inappropriate that it is always about certain people, but what can you do. Even without a TV and without ever buying any gossip magazines, I am still keeping up quite well :-( )

    • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

      hahaha..Totally feel you there -I don’t have a tv or buy gossips mags either, but keep up way too well online. My go-to treasure trove of mindless gossip is dailymail.co.uk celebrity section – it goes on forever, all in a handy little right hand column, so you can shamelessly distract yourself for as long as you need to :-)

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        Well, if there were, say, animal stories, or pictures of faraway places flooding the internet to such a degree, I’d be content as well. I don’t derive any special pleasure from Kim’s butt ;-) or the lack of Jen’s baby bump and might cringe a lot if they are everywhere. It is quite possible I am never ever going to take anyone seriously whose tongue I have seen, I got that spoiled for me :-)

        (but a break I really need – especially between 2 different projects, so as to make my mind black out and go over to something completely different)

        • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

          Ahahaha…every time I see that mammoth butt or that vile coated tongue on display, I have to scroll by really fast so as not to burn my eyes too badly…

          • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

            LOL

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    I would like to say that I don’t like this type of scientific litterature, but I do enjoy reading it in the doctor’s waiting room. It’s awful, isn’t it?

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    Gossip columns, online shopping, fashion blogs, and youtube cute animal or funny kid videos are the things I reach for when I want to procrastinate on a deadline, get my mind off stress, or take a break from working. I don’t actually care about the celebs – it’s just something mindless and superficially interesting enough to work in the capacity I need it too.

    • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

      Me too – anything brainless would do as long as I don’t need to invest too much energy into reading/doing it when I need a break.

      The need for fulfilling reading/interaction comes from a different place (lustful exchange of information – I read our brains were wired to love it)

      • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

        That is so well put, alcessa! Something that we don’t have to “invest too much energy into reading/doing” when we need a break – that’s exactly it! Also agree with the “fulfilling reading” impulse coming from a different place. I wonder if this is why we like manrepeller so much, because she gives us the humor and fun fluff, combined with compelling insights and quality content-so we can get both needs met in one place.

  • Emily

    hahaha I always wonder why I “don’t care” about celebrity gossip, but every time I get my nails done I devour the latest US Weekly. I feel a little better when I find I don’t know who half of the people are, at least.

  • sophie m.

    so US Weekly is to my soul what chicken lo mein is to my waistline?

  • http://www.foxyoxiesupernova.blogspot.com/ Oksana Radionova

    People who indulge in gossip mags/shows/etc. do so because of one of three reasons: 1.) Their own lives lack excitement, 2.) Their social circle is made up of people who do the same, or 3.) Boredom. The only time I will ever pick up a gossip magazine is if I’m so completely bored out of my mind, and there’s absolutely nothing else to occupy my time {i.e. sitting at a dentist’s office or waiting in line at WalMart}.

    http://www.foxyoxiesupernova.blogspot.com

  • Anwar_Bananwar

    Yea, I read gossip mags sometimes. Who cares. Sometimes I’ll also read Judith Butler or Georges Bataille. You know what? A lot of the bad things that happen in the world are because of people worrying too much about what other people are doing. Who are we trying to impress? Enjoy your life. It’s not like you’re forcibly displacing indigenous populations or exploiting other peoples’ inabilities to pay for their homes. Good news! You’re probably a good person!

  • http://dressupwithlola.com/ Lola

    A few weeks ago at work, a couple of us were discussing Miley and the controversy that constantly surrounds her and my friend says to me “did you hear about her and Liam, they broke up” and I was like “oh i think they broke up a while ago, she stopped wearing her ring..think she was in denial” at this point a colleague interrupted “you talk about them like you know them and whilst this colleague is someone quite pretentious and is constantly looking at ways to bring me and several others in our working place down-I was a little embarrassed that I do talk about celebrities like they’re close friends of mine, it’s weird and I am making a conscious effort to stop. In the UK they have a paper called the Daily Mail *cough* daily fail *cough* and the showbiz pages gives literally a play-by-play of popular celebs lives, I am happy to say that I am now clean for like 2 weeks. Gone are my lunchtime celeb browsing and in with the “let’s find out what’s going on in the world”. Another point that I am ashamed about, I had to ask a friend a while back “can you tell me what’s going on in Syria” it is quite ridiculous that I didn’t know about what was going on while I can literally go on and on about the Taylor Swift’s new video and which ex-boyfriend it could potentially be about.

  • Adrianna Grężak

    I don’t necessarily indulge in celebrity gossip, but I am fascinated by new seasons of the Real Housewives (before they were super conscious of cameras and social media presence.) I should note that majored in anthropology in college, and I am drawn to observing different people. And quite frankly, some of those women are entertaining.

    I can have plenty of “high-brow” conversations about things I heard on NPR and read in New Yorker magazine, but discussing celebrities and reality shows is an easy way to break the ice with somebody. Men really shouldn’t roll their eyes at things like the Real Housewives, because I would argue that discussing sports is on the same wavelength of small talk.

  • Suzy_Q

    People like celeb trash tabloids because it’s an escape from mundane middle-class realities. It’s a way of living vicariously through someone (who in some fantasyscape) we aspire to live like. I mean, we don’t all want to be movie stars and reality TV doyennes, but it’s undeniable that their lives have a glitzy veneer and they seemingly are on vacation all the time. In times of recession and widespread economic turbulence where vacay’s are NO-OK, reading about Kimye’s canoodling (with visual enhancement!) in Paris is kind of like a cheap momentary holiday from the real world….while we’re bored out of our minds waiting for our turn at the grocery checkout line.

  • sarahmira

    I think we problably know more about some celebrities lives than they do…

    sarahmira.com

  • http://www.lacksokning.com/leak-detection/ Leak detection

    Awesome and Congratulations! amazing style as always :)

    Vattenläckage

  • http://www.NameNecklaceSale.com/ Dana Name Necklace

    come on
    Gossip is the perfect stuff for a coffee break
    and the funniest thing is to catch a guy (not a gay ;) ) reading a gossip column

    they are so embarrassed

    XX Dana
    http://www.NameNecklaceSale.com

  • http://afterthe40barfinish.blogspot.com/ Nina Piccini

    Is it any different then stating I don’t have time for the news, but I can sit here and read/view fashion blogs all night… you chose what and what not to read with your spare time. It doesn’t really bother me, though, if I’m not in the know on who’s breaking up this week or what Kardashian is now pregnant.

    xo, Nina

  • ericaparkenglund

    This blog typically starts fresh and exciting discussions about fashion and pop culture. I am surprised to read something on a subject that’s so old and stale. Has the media conditioned us as a society to be distracted by celebrity gossip? YES! But spoiler alert, it’s NOT what’s wrong with America.

  • Lucy Korn

    I never buy those magazines but I will flick through them at the dentist or wherever and the same question always occurs to me. What must it be like to work at one of these publications? I imagine the editorial team would gather around a table every morning brainstorming what stories they can fabricate out of the hundreds of paparazzi pictures they have acquired, what rumors they can fuel, what celebrity relationship (real or imagined) they can capitalize on. You ask if those that write these things enjoy it or feel remorse, I think it would be a mixture of enjoyment and indifference. They can either do it because they get a kick out of gossip mongering (and we all know people like that) or they just feel so removed from the people they are writing about that they just don’t care.

    I would like to think that most people who do find themselves flipping through the latest US Weekly are smart enough to not take the articles seriously. Do people really believe that Angelina Jolie has been paid 50 million dollars to write a ‘tell all’ book? I mean seriously.

    (Im going to sound like a dick if that turns out to be true)

  • Shawnee Rajala

    Over the past few years, I’ve stopped buying the tabloid/gossip magazines. I find they are all judgmental and impersonal. Yes, I might read one at the dentist office if it’s in front of me, but I’ve also read Chicken Soup books or travel magazines that were available as well. I’ve grown to realize that I don’t care to partake in the cruel invasions of people’s lives, celebrity or not. I think that a lot of people don’t see people in photos as humans…because a celebrity’s photo is usually most known and not their everyday interactions…so it makes them easier to judge and talk about. I feel awkward talking bad about people I don’t know – even ones that I do. I guess I’d rather gush over things that interest ME – my positive passions.

  • EtralaLondon

    I hate that kind of gossip magazines that show celeb’s cellulitis or their worse face without make up, and that describe the images with arrows and “arrggghhh” comments… Absolutely it’s like the worst fast food.

    Kisses from London http://www.etrala.com/

  • alexia

    If people didn’t talk about celebrities, there would be no celebrities… That’s the way it works. They make money on controversy. Sometimes, they’re dumb and they loose the bet and end up crushed, sometimes they’re too young to understand the consequences of their actions… But they all want to be in the spotlight. I don’t feel guilty, stupid or anything like that because I read a few magazines… That’s the society we all live in, want it or not. Better keep an eye on it in my opinion.

  • http://madeleineblogs.com/ Maddy

    I try not to consumer as much “celebrity gossip” as I used to – living in LA for four years made me pretty much obsessed (think, compulsively checking blogs, getting excited to see a reference to a place I knew, etc) but now that I’m back in SF I wonder why I was so interested in these things that don’t directly affect my life? And, on the other side, I always feel so bad about seeing people be chased down by paparazzi but the mags I read are feeding into that whole consumption-of-celebrities lifestyle. So, again, trying to cut down. But, to be honest, it’s addictive.

  • Kate

    It’s a train wreck you can’t look away from. Simple as that. We all want to believe we’re above it all, but yes, when I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or waiting to catch a flight, I indulge in celebrity gossip mags. Perhaps on a subconscious level, it helps us plebeians feel better that rich, beautiful people have cellulite or need foundation like the rest of us. And I absolutely agree that afterwards, you feel a little gross…the way I feel after downing a Big Mac…but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it again.

    http://www.taffetaandtulips.blogspot.com

  • Rosie

    Well personally I think it is addicting. That, in itself, is why I dont buy them. For one, it is frankly entertaining as hell (in my opinion) to read gossip. It doesnt mean I like that particular entertainment though. Those mags are still there so obviously people read them right? Well, I do occasionally induce myself in a exceptionally gossip-y magazine to distract from the dramatic life style of a student that I live, at least theres something going on in the outside world of my room, whether its truth or gossip.

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