I have something to say about celebrities and what is considered “news” and why people care so much and become intensely invested in things that never concerned them.
I say all this as a person quite vocal about reality television and shows like “Hoarders” which basically exploits mental illness. I say this as a person genuinely embarrassed by the rubber-necking of videos and online smackdowns of people behaving badly. I say this as a mother who refuses to allow trash television in her home because I cannot stand by and mock when people are truly hurting other people and all the jackassery that follows. I say this as a blogger who writes about 20% of her actual life for online purposes. That other 80% belongs to me and my family and none of us want people to read about absolutely everything in our lives.
My good friend Janeen is an accountant who reads the newspapers daily and devours books that most people have never heard of yet she knows an awful lot about popular culture. It comes from reading about it and yet never actually viewing them for herself. “It hurts my heart to know that people are intentionally cruel and purposefully stupid.” she said to me one day when I pulled myself from a conversation that was headed straight for gossip about the break up of yet another celebrity marriage. “Why should we care?”
Indeed, Janeen. I’m far less interested in the marriage of famous people than of my own friends. I stepped back from that conversation with her because I just don’t care enough to make that the top priority of things I wanted to discuss that evening. We were at an event raising money for education and were both appalled at the low rent conversations going on instead of discussing academic achievement or the growing poverty in our community or the number of teachers who go far above what is required of them for their students. As the discussions in the room tended toward the lowest hanging fruit, we inched away and felt the need to increase the level of discourse. Janeen knows I’m a blogger and she asked if I find that to be the case in the world of online writers.
“God, yes!” I said, afraid that she would assume I write about celebrity drivel. “For instance, this week someone wrote how devastated they were about Heidi Klum and Seal breaking up their marriage.” Devastated seems a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it? I mean, I’m devastated that a family in my school is now homeless with four children under the age of 12. I’m devastated that a friend was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. But famous people ending their relationship? Not so much. I really don’t care that much.
Celebrities seems to do a wonderful job of showing us their wonderful lives with their wonderful things. That’s great for them. It really is. They show us their homes with incredible kitchens and entertainment areas, their jewelry and fancy clothes, and their fabulous vacations where the paparazzi stalk them. They are interviewed and give us, in incredible detail, a peek into their relationships and how they’ve got it all figured out. Some of them even have blogs to show the rest of us JUST HOW THEY DO IT.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, anyone?
Then, in an attempt to retaliate against them we decry how awful they are and how much we hate them for showing us all their “stuff”. And, in the event that their marriages fail, we take sides and discuss ad naseum the intimate details we were privy to from the disclosure of all those interviews and magazine articles and whatever else we could glean from TMZ. What happens next, in the natural course of events, is that they ask for privacy.
Right. Now the rest of us should stop wondering so much. Well, the rest of the people who still care.
Janeen asked me why I didn’t care even if I knew who all these people were and what I came up with surprised me a little bit. Sure, I catch Heidi Klum on whatever fashion show it is that she’s on (see? I can’t even recall the name of it and I’m not in the mood to search my brain or the Internet to find out!) and I listen to Seal’s music. This isn’t even just about them. Famous people, in general, seem to spend much time creating the right amount of distance between themselves and the common man. When that distance is established, I see the chasm there and realize my place in it which is far, far away from their lives. Why get any closer to it and invest energy to it? Why speculate and expend more energy on people who I don’t even know?
After talking with Janeen about this and explaining my position I excused myself from the festivities and picked up my coat from the coat check and drove straight over to a friend’s house who was struggling with a new diagnosis for her son, Josiah, and took them out for pie.
That’s why I don’t care about celebrities. I think I’m too wrapped up in this other stuff that matters to me and I would probably write about the Janeen’s and Josiah’s in that 80% of my life that’s just mine and not necessarily to share. But I wouldn’t want to open my friend’s up to getting critiqued online when life is, at best, hard enough to live without inviting scrutiny.