02 May 2008

My guilty pleasure...

I have a secret – (well, for the next second before you read this next sentence): I really, really enjoy reading slutty celebrity tabloids.
I’m not entirely sure how the fixation started. Make no mistake, the fault is mine. No one forced me into my addiction. I went willingly. When I was younger, my favorite part of any grocery store trip was reading the Weekly World News, a publication (now online-only) so impossibly fake that it came back around the curve as absolute truth. Years later, I would wonder which is worse: a newspaper that claims to be true all the time, or a publication that makes no claims to truth or ay standard whatsoever? Which product is more reliably accurate (according to its own (non?) standards of quality?
Eventually, the urge to read WWN changed with my developing (questionable) taste. It wasn’t enough to read about Bat Boy meeting with Clinton after aliens knocked up Hillary. Now, I wanted flesh-and-blood fiction. I wanted celebrity trash – the smuttier, the better.
In a way, magazines like OK! And Star are really nothing more than pornography for the mind. They provide stimulation for release and are just as quickly forgotten once the deed is done. Unlike a regular news magazine, there isn’t any cruciality to the stories contained in a celebrity rag. This is attractive for many people I know, simply because the vast majority comes home at the end of the day too exhausted to care whether or not the Israelis and Palestinians have made any progress, or what Barack is saying about Hillary this week. It’s far easier to flip open a magazine with a three-page photo pictorial about alleged baby bumps in Hollywood, or speculations (from doctors who haven’t treated the people they are talking about) about who has had plastic surgery and where.
Like real pornography, the fascination with these distractions eventually loses its luster. There simply comes a time when you’ve seen one too many stories about celebrity meltdowns, and the information simply fails to register or, at the least, entertain. I’d reached this point with celebrity “journalism.” While I will still gladly read whatever I can get my hands on, I find I don’t look forward to it the way I used to look forward to my other addictions of choice (cigarettes, gummy bears, fill in the blank). Now, my cravings only come around to be temporarily solved before returning a few days later. I’ve found that reading tabloids can be like that old quote from one of the guys from Crosby, Stills and Nash: It’s like checking into a hotel that you can check out of any time but never really leave.
When I was reading about Nazis, dictators, war and general bad human behavior all of the time, tabloids presented an alternative counterweight to the utter seriousness of the kinds of things I was filling my head with (a picture of a severed head in a concentration camp bonfire comes to mind). With my reading levels on the decline after starting in a career field and getting married, the counterweight has swung in the opposite direction. The heavy stuff has gone out the window (mostly) simply because it takes too much effort after working on a newspaper all day. Instead, the tabloids have become the heavy weight on the end of the scale, which is now lopsided due to one side being completely empty.
I am the weary addict; I can check in to TMZ.com and the Daily Mail at any time, but I can never really leave. Despite my relative shame over the fact, completely useless information pushes some button deep within my soul.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish reading “Driver fined for playing ‘Riverdance’ too loudly wins four-year legal battle.” Bliss.

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