To me, Easter is like the Christian version of “Night of the Living Dead.” Except when Jesus came back from the dead, it apparently didn’t scare the living crap out of everyone.
Have you heard the latest about Jessica Simpson? And the scandalous rumors about Jon & Kate? Or that Erin Andrews is like, totally, completely, irreparably screwed because some people saw a fuzzy video of her walking around naked in a hotel room? You haven’t?! Where have you been?!
Surely your life can’t possibly be interesting enough on its own that you don’t follow the latest celebrity gossip. Speaking for myself, I can’t go a single day without hearing what A-list celebrity needs to lose weight, is battling addiction, is cheating/being cheated on or is about to adopt another African baby to fill their lives with meaning and purpose and show all us little people how we should live our lives.
In case you haven’t noticed, our nation’s fascination with celebrities is reaching a troubling climax. Just last week, ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews called 911 to report that paparazzi were outside her home and that she was appalled to discover that she was being treated “like f—ing Britney Spears and it sucks.”
Poor Erin. Cursing the paparazzi is something most celebrities do, whether publicly or privately – and for good reason. These goons with their cameras chase, prod, incite, invade and pray that someone, somewhere, will be caught with their pants down (sometimes literally) and that they’ll be lucky enough to capture all the fabulous carnage with their telephoto lens and sell the goods to the highest bidder.
To be sure, paparazzi are probably about one step up from bedbugs on the evolutionary ladder. But blaming paparazzi is missing the real issue at hand. Like everything else, the paparazzi, TMZ, and the dozens of celebrity gossip rags that we walk past every day in the checkout lanes of our local supermarket are simply filling a demand. Just like a plumber can unclog a toilet or re-pipe your bathroom, US Weekly is satisfying the appetites of bored American housewives who crave uncensored views into the lives of the rich and beautiful.
There’s more to the magazines than that, though. Much more. In between the latest articles and shocking photos are countless cosmetics ads, dieting tips, and other not-so-subtle reminders that we’re not nearly as pretty or smart or interesting as we should be and that if only we bought more products from Revlon and cut out a few more carbs and paid more for designer clothes that we could, in our own small way, be a little more like the Hollywood idols we worship.
Of course, that is pure fantasy – a bold and clever lie fed to us by advertisers. The truth is that 99% of us have zero chance of ever getting into the VIP room of that swank, exclusive club – let alone on the guest list. Nope, celebrity status is reserved for those oh-so-lucky few that were blessed from birth with powerful connections, stunning good looks or perhaps just an innate talent for pretending to be somebody else, which is really what all actors do when you get right down to it.
We pretend too, in our own little way. We see what kind of hairstyle Johnny Depp is wearing, or what elegant dress Scarlett Johansson wore to the latest awards ceremony and trick ourselves into thinking that we too could be so glamorous, sexy, hot and if only we found the right combination of exfoliants, hair products and exotic fabrics.
But why? Even if we do attain some fleeting moment of physical beauty…what then? Are we envied a little more by our peers? More attractive to the opposite sex? Is our sense of self-worth really that closely tied to how we look in a bathing suit and whether Paris Hilton would look at us and say “that’s hot”?
I’d like to be able to respond with an authoritative “No!” to these questions, but I fear that, in fact, that’s exactly what we want and that we really are, in fact, that shallow. How on Earth are we supposed to find time for exploring ourselves, helping others or focusing our attention on things that matter when we’re too busy stuffing our collective consciousness with the intellectual equivalent of a volcano taco?
Until we realize what vain depths we’ve sunk to as a culture and find something better to do with our time and money, the cycle will continue with no end in sight and the paparazzi and tabloids will continue to profit.
So I’m sorry, Erin Andrews, but the cameras are going to continue to roll. At least until we find the next hot little thing to latch on to. Don’t try to fight it. Just smile and put on something fabulous because, like it or not, you’re on.