The new, special, double issue of People magazine arrived at my door (yes, I get it delivered; and yes, I have the depth of skillet). Much to my delight, it's the World's 100 Most Beautiful issue! Imagine, EXTRA pages of nice-looking famous people and advertisements that appeal to readers who find nice-looking famous people fascinating.
But as I began rifling through the hefty pages and weighty material my delight became despair, and my mood plummeted faster than the housing market.
First, I'm not IN this special double issue of People magazine. I'm not named one of THE WORLD'S 100 MOST BEAUTIFUL people. I'm upset (not as upset as I was when I wasn't named one of Forbes magazine 400 richest people) and rightly so. I'm cute, puckish...adorable in that "oh-what-an-amusing-middle-aged-queen" kind of way. (Why just look at that delicious, 260 year old photo of me next to my byline, taken in a dinghy in a cove off of Sydney harbor!)
As I went through the magazine, back and forth, forth and back, my upset turned to puzzlement and then rapidly slid down into the pan of panic, (the kind of panic that only a double-session with Dr. Finklestein could alleviate) because I had absolutely NO IDEA who half of the "famous" people on this list were! None! Never heard of them. Couldn't pick them out of a police lineup if they were wearing "Hello, My Name Is..." name tags.
But there they were, in high gloss color print, staring at me with their wind (or at least wind-machine) swept hair, shiny lips and recently veneered teeth, all subliminally screaming at me, "WE'RE THE WORLD'S MOST 100 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE...and we're FAMOUS!"
But if they're famous, shouldn't I have heard of them? Maybe not be thoroughly familiar with their work, but as a fellow member of the "show biz community" shouldn't I have at least in passing, caught mention of their names? What has happened? Is it me? Am I too old? (I don't really think that's the case--again, look at that delicious photo of me next to my byline). Have I fallen so far out of the loop that even idle water-cooler chatter evades me?
Kate Hudson is on the cover. I know who Kate Hudson is. I like Kate Hudson. Whether she's actually one of the World's 100 Most Beautiful People is a matter of debate, but beauty is subjective...fame, isn't.
The trouble began a few pages after Kate Hudson. There was Rebecca Romijn, Brooke Shields, Jennifer Love Hewitt. All big stars, all stored in my information warehouse. Then it happened. On Page 80: "Taylor Swift." I've never heard of her. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and she's very pretty. But who is she? Is she some kind of an actress? A model? Is she dating someone famous? Did she break up a famous political marriage? (And if so, wouldn't that make her infamous, rather than famous)?
Taylor Swift was followed by Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Banks, Vanessa Hudgens and other "celebrities" whose names I've never heard celebrated. There were entire pages of unknown famous people, which, I'm pretty sure, is an oxymoron. People like Audrina Partridge, Whitney Port, Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag. There's Joy Bryant, Sarah Larson, Anna Friel...Isla Fisher, Christina Hendriks, Laura Prepon...Miranda Lambert, Ingrid Hoffman, Ginnifer Goodwin.
Page 134 is devoted entirely to the cast of something called, Gossip Girl. I gather this is some sort of a teenage soap opera that appears on some minor television network. Yet, the space it's given by the magazine implies it must be an important show with a lot of gravitas, like Sixty Minutes or a society altering experience, like The Sopranos. The Gossip Girl page features pictures of seven REALLYREALLYREALLY good-looking people...none of whom I--or any of my friends, colleagues or peers--have any knowledge. Leighton Meester (a girl) Penn Badgley (a boy), Ed Westwick, Blake Lively (sounds like a dance step) Taylor Momsen, Chace Crawford and Jessica Szohr. I'll bet even Kathy Griffin doesn't know who they are.
Fame isn't generational...or at least it shouldn't be. James Dean died the year I was born...but I knew who he was. Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Betty Grable...all well before my time, but all stars, and rightly so. I'm not living in a bubble...I know all about Justin Timberlake and Rhianna; I even know that Miley Cyrus is AKA Hannah Montana.
On Page 90 of People magazine's WORLD'S 100 MOST BEAUTIFUL issue is some raven-haired creature named Minka Kelly. I have a question: Exactly what the hell is a Minka Kelly??? Answer: I don't know. Perhaps she's one of Mischa Barton's friends.