In a world where Anna Nicole’s seventh billion paternity test disrupts CNN’s coverage of the war in Iraq, where Page Six of the New York Times has more of an impact on reader’s lives than the front page headlines, it is easy to fall victim to celebrity scandal overload.
I am not speaking as a member of society that has risen above the influence of becoming engulfed in the lives of people that I hardly know (but feel like I do), but rather as an interested party in the world of celebrity scandal who is trying to achieve a balance between real life and the Hollywood bubble that I live in vicariously through the E! network.
Sure, I do enjoy reading US Weekly more than Newsweek. I don’t know the leaders of many countries, but I could tell you which A-listers wore what to this years' Academy Awards. At this point, I am able to write off what people affectionately refer to as my “useless knowledge of showbiz trivia” as a job. Sort of. Last year, I started writing a celebrity gossip column for my school newspaper. Sure, it’s not Dateline worthy information, but I received nothing but positive feedback from my fellow writers and readers. In December, I received a nomination to be in the Who’s Who of American Colleges and Universities, which recognizes students for being well-known in their campus communities. Since I had very little other claims to fame as a transfer student, I realized that “Lindsay’s Look at Celebrity Scandal” was my ticket to being known by the student body.
While it was gratifying to be acknowledged for something, I wondered, is this all I’ll ever be? The girl that people go to to find out why Britney Spears shaved her head? (I’m not even kidding- after the “clip heard round the world” I had people coming up to me constantly asking me “why?” Like Britney and I are BFF”s or something.) While I’ve always been comfortable with my zeal for salacious gossip and celebrity style secrets, I have encountered others that have tried to make me feel inadequate for writing and caring about such “fluff.” I have one particular colleague who promptly replies with “who cares?!” the instant after I announce the latest tabloid rumor. Who does care?
Well, it turns out, almost everybody. Look at Britney’s recent out of control behavior. Between the head shaving, the underwear forgetting, and the rehab merry-go-round, more people are interested in Brit’s career (or lack thereof) than ever before. News programs are bringing in analysts to determine whether or not Britney is an unfit mother. A salon owner from Florida is now a local celebrity trying to sell the locks on eBay for one million dollars. Kevin Federline is now appearing to be a solid parent.
My point is, the world is upside down. Seeing this media frenzy made me realize that it’s not just me — the whole world is gaga for gossip. If people didn’t care about this stuff, would I still have a weekly column devoted to celeb slip-ups and mishaps? Of course not. My editor would have yanked it and replaced it with something that people “really” care about. Only now, that is what people “really” care about. This is what we want to know. And it’s not just college aged kids — little old grannies are grabbing the tabs in the supermarket wondering “where it all went wrong” for the former Southern belle Britney. So while it doesn’t appear that my interests are that out there, the real question is, am I feeding the problem? If people are out there looking for the latest rumor mill concoction and I serve it up to them on a big ‘ole platter, am I a contributor to the issue itself?
Others may feel differently, but I believe that if I stopped doing what I am doing, people would just go out and get their information from somewhere else. While some may argue that I am not a “real” journalist, in my history with writing I have always been taught that the best way to write is to “write what you know.” This, is what I know. Sure, it’s not always dignified or life-changing, and I’m certainly not enlightening future generations, but damn, it sure is fun. After all, a journalist is only as successful as the amount of readership they have. So I’m going to continue on my way with the Tinstletown lowdown.
True, I may have to spend a little extra time proving myself as an intelligent young woman, but it’s worth it to be able to continue to do something that I truly love.