For the past few years I have started every morning with a fresh, hot cup of coffee (or three) and six celebrity gossip sites. Yes, SIX. I have them all bookmarked, waiting for my eager little fingers to click on them with the hope that something earth-shattering may have happened in the 8 hours I have been asleep. Usually I find out that Britney went shopping at 4 a.m. and that Reese and Jake went to the grocery store. I click on the next one hoping maybe they have unearthed something more scandalous. But it's just the same photos of Britney shopping and Jake and Reese buying apples and Bounty. And so my day begins, followed by continuous gossip blog-checking, the thrilling receipt of my US Weekly in the mail and e-mails from friends saying "Can you believe (insert any celebrity drama here)?"
I always feel I can defend my celebrity gossip addiction by comparing it to other far more harmful habits -- say, drugs, excessive drinking, shop-lifting or semi-automatic weapon smuggling. But that defense is getting harder to justify, as I actually think my gossip addiction has become toxic to my life. Perhaps it's because the paparazzi have begun to viciously stalk anyone whose name has appeared in lights in the last decade, or maybe it's because our celebrities seem to be slowly, but surely, careening off the deep end. Gossip is no longer the good, clean fun of seeing your favorite star without her makeup, but rather watching one tragically lose control of her life, her kids, her mental health -- and have it plastered on every blog, website and tabloid out there. What is so fascinating to us about the downfall of another human being? And why are stars being shown that the sicker they are the more press they will get?
What made me question the harmlessness of celebrity gossip was the coverage of Heath Ledger's death. Watching a hoard of photographers and "fans" waiting outside his apartment to get a glimpse of his body being wheeled out in a body bag was nauseating. Have we really come to this? Are we so desperate for obscene amounts of knowledge about such awful events that we wait in anticipation of a body bag? But there I was, sitting in front of the TV watching the coverage on Access Hollywood (which I previously referred to as "the news"). I do not want to support the actions of the paparazzi, nor do I want to be the kind of person who is interested in that kind of severe personal violation. Let the dead rest in peace, and the grieving heal alone, out of the watchful eye of all of America.
Another bothersome side of this world of gossip can be found when flipping through the latest tabloid. You can't help but notice that half of the pages seem to be dedicated to autopsy-like physical critiques and a cataloging of items that "could make your life better". A new nose, new boobs, $3,000 handbag, two nannies, a certain shade of lipstick, a $15 million home and designer dog- all ripe for the taking if you only were a star. It's a bible of excess and materialism and we all have started preaching it and believing it. The message is no longer one of suggestion, but rather direction. You are not good enough as you are. I certainly have found myself occasionally feeling this way and hoping that a new pair of shoes will uplift me from a temporary funk and make me walk with the swagger of a celebrity. They never do, and so I have finally made a decision. A big decision for a life long gossip addict like me.
I am going to stop seeking out celebrity gossip for the next two weeks. Cold turkey.
If I pass a tabloid with a cover announcing Angelina's pregnancy, so be it, but no longer will I spend my mornings with Perez, Michael K. or any of the other gossips regaling in the latest saga of the beautiful people. My US Weekly will be recycled unread and the TV tuned to the nightly news. I'll spend it reading more about the events going on in our world, starting a new painting, playing with my dog or trying to do something nice for my husband. The real people and things in my life deserve those precious moments, not the vapid trials and tribulations of Hollywood. Will it improve my daily life and sense of well being? Will I want to go back to my daily addiction? That is yet to be determined.
But I do have a feeling it will be harder than I predicted, seeing as I have my mouse anxiously hovering over People.com as I write this.