I was getting my haircut last week. and the usually bustling salon was relatively empty. Just me, the woman cutting my hair (not my regular stylist) and a customer on the other side of the salon, sitting with tinfoil in her hair.
Halfway through the haircut, the tinfoil lady, People magazine in hand, asked my stylist, “Does Angelina Jolie have a reason to be angry with Jennifer Aniston?” So began a five minute discussion about these two actresses. Their careers. Their children. Their love lives.
At one point I finally asked, “Do either one of you know these women?”
Of course, they did not. Yet their conversation continued as if they did. Back and forth, these women debated the decisions and morality of these two women, as if these actresses’ lives had any importance or meaning to their own.
And as if they could honestly rely on the gossip media for accuracy in reporting.
Let me just say it:
I find this conversation, and conversations like it, to be trashy, petty, simpleminded, and meaningless. And publications like People magazine, US magazine, and every other celebrity-obsessed website and print medium operate in a similar vein.
Don't get me wrong. I don’t begrudge the publishers for making a profit. As one of my heroes, HL Mencken once said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
But doesn’t there come a point in a person’s life when the divorce and diet plans of people who pretend to be someone else in front of a camera cease to hold any interest?
Last week I was visiting relatives when I was asked what I thought about Jesse James. Naturally, I thought they were referring to the bank robber from nineteenth century. When I explained that I had not heard about this modern-day version of Jesse James, I don’t think they believed me at first.
Yes, I know who Sandra Bullock is.
Yes, I even know she won an Oscar. I saw the movie and read the book.
Yes, I think I even heard her Oscar speech, recommended to to via Twitter from someone I follow.
But no, I don’t remember the reference to her husband in the speech, because doesn’t everyone thank their spouse after winning an Oscar?
And no, I had no idea that her husband was cheating on her.
But then again, how would I know? Not a single one of my friends brought this situation up in conversation. I do not watch any television programs that deal with celebrity gossip. And I don’t read celebrity-gossip publications like People or US.
And let’s face it: If you are a subscriber or regular reader of one of these publications, you are probably in the company of the lowest common denominator of American society.
Please note for those suddenly offended: I did not say that you are a member of the lowest common denominator. I simply stated that you are in their company. You are probably a brilliant thespian, but you’re surrounded by morons.
Are there any magazines of lesser value than those that hire photographers to stalk celebrities for a picture of their new baby? Or write incessantly about the weight problems of a twenty-something? Or elevate girls whose fathers are rich to the heights of celebrity?
And is there anything worse than wanting to see a photo of a celebrity baby when you know the mother or father were trying to keep their child out of the public eye? Or wanting to read the story about the young woman who gained thirty pounds and now can’t find work in Hollywood? Or the rich but otherwise irrelevant girl who has been caught in a sex tape scandal?
Doesn’t there come a time in a person’s like when magazine covers like this become repulsive?
May I humbly recommend magazine covers that look more like this: