Actually, I’ve never slept with Tiger Woods. I’ve never met Tiger Woods. I’ve never even watched golf on television. But in an inadequate attempt to get more hits on my blog, I thought that “I slept with Tiger Woods” was a good opening.
Currently I have two guilty pleasures, and in this era of honesty, I am coming out of the closet to admit one of them. It’s People. Not just any people. Peoplemagazine.
For some reason, I eagerly devour reports about folks I’ve never seen or heard. Who is Lauren Conrad? Heidi Montag? Leighton Meester? Blake Lively? Megan Fox? (I do know who Lauren Bacall, Robert Blake, and JamieFoxx are, and I’ve read Heidi. As for Leighton Meester…oh well.)
Obviously I’m not hip and happening enough to know who these people are and why they are celebrated. Nevertheless I have to read every issue of People. I missed two last year and was disconsolate. I am also a People snob. I only read Peopleimitators (e.g., US) when Amazon.com offers subscriptions for a dollar or two. Although an avid puzzler, I don’t do the puzzles. I stick to the gossip, crime stories, everyday heroes, reviews, and I occasionally read (and laugh about) the recipes. I am addicted to “celebrity” fashion, and merrily critique gowns and costumes. I do this in my mismatched living room, wearing pajama bottoms, a tank-top, and hot pink pseudo-Crocs.
I have yet to hear Rihanna, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Lady GaGa, or Jessica Simpson sing (and am in no hurry to) but I can pretty much report on their ups and downs and the bums in their lives. Jennifer Aniston? I’ve never watched Friends, never seen her movies, and know all about her various loves. It’s weird. I will read anything printed about Britney Spears. Anything. Make a list of every day she’s been alive, publish it in People, and I’ll read it. Maybe I should live closer to my family. Not that they’d want that.
It gets weirder. Men. Yeah, that’s pretty weird right there. But the only men I will read about are the ones I have seen or heard, unless, of course, they are involved with women about whom I’ve read. If there’s an item about Spencer Pratt (who?) I’ll totally ignore it. And in some cases, I won’t ever read about a guy who’s been involved with a woman I’ve read about because he is a dog. For example, John Mayer has apparently been involved with everyone, except maybe Laura Bush, and I know this because I read about all the female everyones, but I will not read an article about this musician (?) with whom I am totally unfamiliar. Maybe this essay is a little too revealing. WWFS?*
As long as humans have been able to communicate with each other, there has been gossip. If our scientists were sophisticated enough to understand animal communications, they’d know that even dogs gossip among themselves, “Who does she think she is in that rhinestone collar, Sandra Bulldog?” As for felines…you’ve heard the term “catty” haven’t you?
Is gossip a bad thing? It depends how you look at it–are you doing the gossiping or are you the subject of it? I’ve always liked “good gossip.” That’s the kind that starts with good news (“Mark and May are getting married,” “Peg has been accepted to Harvard,” or “the Petersens are expecting”) and doesn’t end with character assassination. George Harrison once said, “Gossip is the devil’s radio”; perhaps he was right. I don’t have time for conversation that involves judging other people or their behavior. While it may make some people feel superior, I would just feel dirty. If the gossip is about someone close, isn’t it disloyalty? It is beyond me why anyone would want to say mean, hurtful things about someone else. A lot of things are beyond me, though—child abuse, infidelity, Everyone Loves Raymond…
People does offer its share of good gossip, along with a healthy dose of feel-good features. It dishes the dirt, and sometimes throws great shovelfuls around when someone like our friend Tiger Woods turns out to have fooled us all. People also does a good job of boiling down big stories to digestible chunks for those of us with short attention spans. It will cover Haiti, but it won’t give all the details one would get from the news media. In big, sad stories that’s all some of us need. Whether it’s artifice or editorial policy, People also gives the impression it has a conscience. Unlike the supermarket tabloids, People doesn’t seem to invent stories or attempt to destroy celebrities, though it certainly will report when one is self-destructing.
I suspect that People satisfies a need I have, a need to feel “in the loop.” Living in a small community, I don’t see women in gowns and furs or men in tuxedos. I haven’t seen a limo in years. None of my neighbors windsurf, race cars, or go to premieres. There are no glamorous night spots, and if there’s a Britney Spears, she’s being kept under wraps. I used to live in the shadow of New York City. And, now that I think of it, I didn’t read People. I don’t miss the old life, but maybe People keeps me in touch.
* What would Freud say?