In our household we pride ourselves as intellectuals bordering on full-out geekdom. Our bookshelves are filled with well thumbed novels from a variety of genres; everything from history to mystery providing hours of entertainment and mind expansion. The ginormous television in our living room is primarily tuned into the History Channel and the Discovery Network. Playing Trivial Pursuit is a favorite evening pastime and it drives us both crazy that our Scrabble skills are not superior to many of our friends who beat US Weekly. The Best Week Ever would certainly include hours of reading, a trip to a museum, an American History marathon on TV, and a trip to our favorite watering hole to play NTN trivia. Our focus on gaining knowledge and desire to learn as much as we can about the world around us are traits we share with many of our friends who are truly Extra-ordinary; incredibly well-read, well-traveled, and educated. Sharing our lives with such intelligent People is inspirational, and drives my personal desire to continue growing intellectually and emotionally. Relationships with some of the best minds around do come with a certain set of challenges; fear of inadequacy, humbling conversations, and moments of topic confusion. My ego learned to deal with not being the smartest or most knowledgeable person in the room, but the confession I am about to make has me questioning whether I am as smart as my friends, or just a source of their Entertainment Tonight.
My ambivalence to the output of Hollywood is not a secret to those who know and love me. During the course of a year I might make it to the movies once or twice. Most nights of the week the television is off or tuned to programs geared towards both entertainment and personal enrichment; Good Eats, Modern Marvels, and Mythbusters fill our DVR queue. Turning my back on conventional entertainment like Blockbuster movies and sitcoms makes confessing to my love of trashy entertainment shows and publications much more embarrassing to admit. Stopping short of actually subscribing to the trashy and expensive tabloids that make paparazzi rich, I limit reading gossip to online sources and doctors’ offices. The only time I actually spend money to learn what Hollywood’s heartthrobs are up to is if I need a mindless read on an airplane. Even then I am known to hide the People magazine inside the cover of the in-flight magazine so those around don’t judge me by the crap I’m reading. There, I said it. I admitted it. I love celebrity gossip, but why does someone who couldn’t care less about entertainment have any interest in the entertainers?
My understanding of high fashion is so out of step with trends that my clothing purchases focus on the classics; those people who never seem let me down: Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Ann Taylor. Even sticking to a few select designers, with more loyalty then a Labrador Retriever I expertly study the clothing of models and actresses as if I’m suddenly going to inherit millions of dollars and switch my wardrobe to Dolce & Gabbana. The Oscar pre-show on E! is celebrated like a national holiday even though I rarely see even one movie nominated for the Academy Awards. As I screech with laughter at each fashion victim, there are no fewer then a dozen phone calls to my mother to discuss what they are wearing, not who is winning. I love a good fashion disaster!
While the breakout of baby rabies, loosely translated as an obsession with having or raising babies, in Hollywood is nothing short of obnoxious, there is something inherently satisfying about watching female celebrities get fat. The only thing more satisfying then watching these size zeros blossom into women with curves is when they discover motherhood is not all Prada, Prams, and Playdates. Does anyone feel sorry for a moment that Angelina is overwhelmed with her 6 children? Even with nurseries filled to the brim with eco-friendly baby bottles, 1000 thread count crib bedding, and an expert staff of nannies and personal trainers we read of celebrity struggles with sleep, weight, child behavior, wandering husbands, and varicose veins. Look how well Brittany handled motherhood. Even more pleasurable than reading about starlets realizing motherhood is a hard job is reading about the beauty, happiness, and success of professed childfree actors and actresses like George Clooney, Dame Judi Dench, Kim Cattrall, Rachael Ray, Bill Maher, Kathy Griffin, and Oprah Winfrey. These stars stand by their childfree convictions despite the negative impact it could have with the media and its obsession with baby bumps. Bravo!
Perhaps my love of all things gossip is just a bit of Schadenfreude, the German term made famous in the Broadway musical Avenue Q (see, I am cultured, I go to musicals!) . Schadenfreude is translated as happiness at the misfortune of others. These stars who seemingly have it all with their looks, money, and fame have their own set of issues too; adultery, depression, divorce, health woes, break-ups, and breakdowns. I cannot be the only geek in the world that gleans a little pleasure from the fact that even the most beautiful people in the world lead less than perfect lives. For a reminder that we’re all a little bit dysfunctional, nothing beats a good celebrity train wreck.
I might not know why half the people in celebrity news these days are even famous, but that doesn’t diminish the way I devour this trash. A ravenous appetite for celebrity news and gossip might not be the most intelligent material to ingest, but ultimately it’s probably OK! to have this mindless diversion to my everyday stresses.