We are all familiar with the glossy magazines that beckon us while we check out at the supermarket or leave a convenience store. Who hasn’t heard of Britney’s latest drama, or Angelina and Brad’s most recent adoption? If you pick up the current issue of US Weekly, you will have exclusive access to Heidi and Spencer’s “wedding album” and gain insight into Lindsay’s mysterious “secret drug to get thin.”
Celebrity obsession is a visible hallmark of our generation. Never before in history have famous people, and their daily lives, garnered so much scrutiny and interest. The internet has obviously played the biggest role in this transformation. Updates and photos are posted in real-time, and even websites that publish legitimate news contain celebrity-related entries. Accessibility is obviously not the problem. The question is, why do we care?
As of April 2009, perezhilton.com was the 143rd most visited website in the U.S.The site is updated constantly with celebrity news, video, and gossip.Some posts actually relate to global events, but each entry is short, succinct, and usually supplemented by Perez’s own opinions and often mildly offensive photo-shop techniques.It is definitely not the best example of hardcore investigative reporting.Yet the site’s numbers continue their steep upward trajectory.
I will admit that there is appeal to occasional celebrity curiosity. It offers escape. These people seem to live in a different world, and often their ridiculous behavior merely reassures us of our own sanity. But what I object to, and what I find worrisome, is when celebrity becomes too blown out of proportion, too absurd and ridiculous for words.
On April 4, Perez uploaded another album to his gallery, entitled “Got an Itch?” This marvelous collection of photographs features candid shots of celebrities picking their noses and, one month later, has garnered more than 7 million views. This means that 7 million Americans made the decision that these photos, along with other popular albums like “Woof! Woof! Stars and their dogs,” were valuable ways to spend time.
The vast majority of us do not know these celebrities, and we probably never will. Many of these tabloid icons do not contribute a single thing of value to our society. Why are Heidi and Spencer famous? The answer is that they starred on a “reality” show that featured young people doing a lot of shopping and eating at fancy restaurants while having intellectually numbing conversations about, essentially, nothing.