There's an Internet rumor floating around that Suri Cruise, the child of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, doesn't exist. (Or at the very least, there's something freakishly wrong with her.) Now, Tom Cruise might be a real freak, but why in the world would he have a reason to lie about the existence of his child!?
What this comes down to are the pathologies of the American (and perhaps global) pop culture consumers. We've been raised on this sense of entitlement to a celebrity's personal life. As a public, we have no damn right to see Tom and Katie's baby, but we feel like we do. If it hasn't appeared in the press, it can't possibly exist, can it? It can't be that maybe Tom and Katie just want their child to have a little bit of privacy?
Where did this voyeurism come from? The tabloid press and the paparazzi feed the frenzy, but there has to be some sort of existing demand or else these rags wouldn't be so popular. (The desire may be a manufactured one though, and if so, where did it come from? How? Why?) Is it just America that is this gossip crazy? I don't think this is a global phenomenon (outside maybe the UK) but I really have no idea. Where else are celebrities worshipped on the level we worship them here?
But it might be unfair to call it worship. There's this odd contradiction we strike here between hero worship and slanderous gossip. People idolize celebrities like Tom Cruise, but at the same time there is this conflicting desire to tear down their celebrity status. We want to see that celebrities are "just like us," but we also elevate the banal activities of celebrities to the status of entertainment.
And reality television fits right into this schema. We make celebrities out of average people and we get off watching them do next to nothing. When Baudrillard talks about the elevation of the banal to the status of art, we could just as easily substitute fame or celebrity. When we elevate the banal to the level of celebrity (or the celebrity to the level of the banal) is celebrity meaningless?
Back to Suri Cruise, why should we care? It's ironic that they would keep their child out of the public eye to avoid unwanted publicity and intrusion into their private lives, but by doing so they've probably spawned more discourse and nasty gossip than they would have otherwise. Is there any way celebrities can live under the public radar when living under the public radar simply pushes one further into it? (i.e. Why is Harper Lee's absence from the literary world after publishing To Kill a Mockingbird more interesting to most people than the book itself?)Powered by Sidelines