Archive for June, 2006

Rubbernecking at Star Crashes…Who Is to Blame?

June 30, 2006


I’d like to think that Americans are a forgiving and compassionate lot…but when it comes to fallen stars, Americans are just plain morbidly curious.

All my bitching in yesterday’s post about Britney Spears…along with some great comments from all of you readers…got me to wondering why Americans love celebrity disaster so much.

Is it that…like slowing down to view a wreck on the side of the road…we can’t help ourselves…that something animal and dark and perverse deep inside us compels us to revel in others’ misery?

Or is it that we simply love to watch people who are worse off than we are…especially pretty and/or rich and/or famous people…because it makes us feel better about our own lives?

Or could it be because celebrities are so far removed from us as ordinary people that we don’t see them as anything but pure entertainment…be it in a role on screen or in reading about their latest gaffe in a gossip column?

As much as I tried to avoid reading about her…I can’t escape Star Jones Reynolds (pictured above) in today’s headlines. Earlier this week she was asked to leave “The View” (read: she was fired) and instead of making a graceful exit…as the show tried to allow her to do…she is stomping to all the media to tell her side of the story. And if that wasn’t bad enough…the media is now analyzing her “exit strategy.”

But why do we care? Why does this merit so much coverage?

Because the American public…myself included…laps it up.

But on the flip side…would we lap it up if it wasn’t shoved in our face? Afterall, I tried to avoid the story…but after seeing it on every web page I visited this morning…curiousity got the best of me.

Another lovely lady in the news today is Lil’ Kim, who is being released from jail three months early. Kim was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury last year about a shootout outside a Manhattan radio station. She began her sentence on Sept. 19, 2005.

I’m glad Lil’ Kim is getting out early (for good behavior, I believe)…good for her…but the kick in the pants for me is the P.R. spin on the story…she’s getting out on July 3, just in time to celebrate our country’s freedom. Rolls eyes and tries to maintain sanity.

So, when celebrities, like Reynolds and Lil’ Kim, air their dirty laundry…aren’t they just asking…begging…for America to sit back, point, stare, and judge?

Do we have a responsibility as the general public to turn our heads and ignore such grandstanding? Or do we take it all in as part of the entertainment industry…as a good story…as the manipulation that it is?

It seems we overwhelmingly choose to take it all in. Afterall, we are a country that celebrates people just for being famous. We can’t seem to have enough celebrities in our galaxy of stars. Whether or not all these people deserve the attention or adulation…we give it to them in spades…by buying magazines…watching television…ahem…writing blogs.

It amazes me how great our fascination is for the talentless and/or skeezy…especially when they are naughty…Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, Courtney Love, R. Kelly. ‘Fess up…how many of us get giddy pleasure from perusing the mugshot page on The Smoking Gun? Slowly raises hand.

And when the celebrities are truly worthy of their elite status…when they are actually talented…our fascination and curiosity seems to double when they behave badly. Why else would Michael Jackson’s trial have made the front page of almost every newspaper in the country for months and months? Why else would fans continue to support Robert Downey, Jr., after being arrested time and time again for his drug addiction? Why else would we criticize Brad Pitt for leaving Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie and then go out and buy the People magazine featuring Brangelina and their new baby on the cover less than a year later?

I know there is line of responsibility when it comes to sensational news…it’s just that that line is a little fuzzy.

Should the media, who seeks out and prints story after story and picture after picture of celebrities in trouble, be held responsible?

Should the celebrities, who put themselves out there (in good times and bad) to gain more notoriety, be held responsible?

Should the general public, who takes it all in, regularly comes back for more, and supports it with the almighty dollar, be held responsible?

Or, ultimately, is all celebrity news just entertainment and P.R. spin…none of which should be taken with anything more than the smallest grain of salt?

Personally, I hope it’s all entertainment…’cause if it’s not…I won’t enjoy my brand new subscription to People as much.