A People obsessed

On a recent flight, I sat behind a young woman who spent the entire one hour and fifty-seven minutes of flying time poring anxiously over the pages of the latest edition of People magazine. Because I hadn’t brought much reading material of my own (and what I had brought was homework, and thus not all that appealing), I found myself glancing over her shoulder from time to time in an attempt to catch a glimpse of what she was reading.

It’s not that I’m an eavesdropper (or whatever the visual equivalent of that could be called); it’s just that I was curious about something that was evidently so interesting to someone else. If this reading material could entrance her for an entire flight, it must be pretty good, right?


Now, whatever she was reading was certainly educational, in a way. I learned all about the latest developments in the “relationship” of Brad [Pitt] and Angelina [Jolie], who (of course) are such celebrities that we can refer to them by their first names alone. Apparently a new pair of twins and a recent trip overseas have worked wonders in bringing the two stars back together.

Which, you know, is, like, great, because they have, like, six kids, and stuff…

Indeed, the new pair of twins has also miraculously succeeded in bringing Angelina closer to her father, who happens to be a famous actor himself—Jon Voight; who knew? According to the article, the two had been estranged for several years but began speaking to one another again when Voight expressed an interest in spending time with the new arrivals. (Apparently the previous four children hadn’t quite captured his interest.)

In any case, I’m sure we can all breathe a major sigh of relief that these super-rich entertainment giants are all speaking to one another again. I know I couldn’t even sleep at night if I thought it were possible that such wealthy, beautiful people could ever have problems in their domestic lives… especially now that Brad has that hot new shaggy beard!

Give me a break.

You know those twins? Those amazing, talented twins, who are reconciling sensational relationships even before they are capable of speech? Well, that’s not all they’ve been up to lately. When they were born, Jolie sold the rights for their first photos to People and Hello! magazines for… how much, now?


Now, before I get all hot under the collar about how much good could be done with such an obscene amount of money, I should note that Jolie did donate the funds to the humanitarian foundation she and Pitt have established together.

However, there’s a bigger problem here: the mere fact that these magazines were willing to shell out fourteen million dollars for pictures of these twin tots shows that they knew millions of people would be dying to see them. At the end of the day, the photo purchase was a business decision: whatever People and Hello! paid for these photos, they must have known that they would make still more.

If you ask me, that’s pretty sick.

I don’t want to offend those of you who hold People and other tabloids close to your heart, but I cannot for the life of me understand your obsession. What do you get out of it? What’s in it for you? You can’t just get away with “I think it’s fun” or “I just find it interesting.” That may be true, but if that’s the case, there must also be an underlying reason why. And, as usual, I have a few theories:

You think that they love you.

Now, that might sound funny at first glance, but think about it: these people are so interesting to you, and you’re sure that if they knew you, you’d be interesting to them, too. You might actually think you have a lot in common. You and Angie both love children! You and Brad both have a beard! You’re a twin yourself! You know that if you just got the chance to sit down and have a cup of coffee with Julia Roberts, you’d probably be best friends. The only reason you aren’t already is because she hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet.

You want to be like them.

There’s no denying that the stars of Hollywood are beautiful people, at least on the outside. They have everything they could ever want. They are loved by all (including you). Clubs pay them to show up on a Friday night. Manufacturers of new products practically kill to have them appear in advertisements. And everyone is so interested in them! You wish people were interested in you that way… and maybe, if you spend enough time wishing upon the stars of Hollywood, they will be!

You’re lonely.

If you don’t have many friends to talk to throughout the day, you can always talk to People. People will always have time for you, even when others don’t. The People people are always fresh, always new, and always have another story to tell. These People fill up your life.

You crave drama.

You know your life is boring on the surface, but deep down you totally identify with what Brad and Angelina are going through. Their epic roller coaster of a relationship is just like something you saw once… in a movie. Wouldn’t it be exciting to live like that? You know that your own day doesn’t furnish much excitement, but it’s thrilling for you to read about the latest breaking up and making up in Tinseltown. These are your friends, after all, and it’s hard to keep up with all of their drama. He got arrested for what? She got another tattoo where? Their marriage lasted only how long? That Britney… she’s always getting herself into trouble. Isn’t it crazy? Isn’t it silly? Isn’t it fun?

You want to disconnect.

You’re not like all those other crazies (above). You don’t think that the stars love you, or even know that you exist. You don’t want to be like them; you have lots of friends and plenty of drama in your life without them. You’re pretty cool yourself, actually… “kind of a big deal; don’t know if you knew.” Sometimes, you just want to take a break from it all. You know it’s frivolous and perhaps even a waste of money, but reading about the foibles and follies of the Hollywood élite lets you turn your brain off for a while, and you’re happy to put a few dollars in their pocket for the pleasure.

Now, you might think I’m all washed up. And I hope I haven’t made anyone (more than a little bit) angry. But if you’re a major People fan, I’ll bet that at least one of these theories struck a chord with you. So I have to ask: aren’t you a little embarrassed? Don’t you have something better to do? With the short life we’ve been given on this earth, do you really think our moments are best spent scrabbling after the latest piece of gossip from 90210? Do the stars of the silver screen really need more of our money?

What if you took all the money you spend on tabloids in a year and gave it to a church or charity instead of to Paris Hilton? I think she has enough already; don’t you?

What if you took all the time you spend on tabloids in a year and spent it with your children instead? Or talking with your partner? Or reading some real literature for a change? How bad could it be?

If you’re someone who has been trapped by the tabloids and you identify with anything I’ve said here, then consider the fact that it’s Lent and give it up.

As far as we know, it hasn’t killed anyone yet…



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3 responses to “A People obsessed

  1. Julia

    But it’s the same reason why people like me spend so much time on Facebook…it’s entertaining and gives the brain a break…

  2. Keren

    Actually, it’s “Bradgelina.” They’re so famous and important that even their relationship has it’s own name.

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