Seething Stars


Sometimes I use this column to make savage mockery of gossip magazines and celebrity culture. This is fun for me, but in order to do it I have to buy a few gossip magazines, and that’s embarrassing. I always want to tell the cashier, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m buying these ironically so I can make fun of them.” But I don’t tell the cashier that, because the cashier doesn’t care, and I am considerate.

okmagazineI got kind of hung up on the current issue of OK! magazine. There’s this two-page spread with the headline “STARS SHINE IN BRILLIANT GREEN,” with this explanation: “OK!’s fashion expert Giuliana Rancic weighs in on the bold color that’s hot in Hollywood.” And the feature, in its entirety, is simply pictures of five celebrities — well, four celebrities and LeAnn Rimes — who happened to wear green dresses at various events in the last couple months, with fashion expert Giuliana Rancic writing 25 words apiece on how uh-mazing they looked. Remember, green is the bold color that’s hot in Hollywood! Everywhere you go in Hollywood, from the backlot at Paramount to the ritzy shops on Rodeo Drive, all anyone can talk about is the color green. “Have you seen the new greens yet?” “Why, yes, aren’t they fabulous?” “I hear they’re working on a new emerald green for release this summer!”

These important photographs of famous people wearing clothes are enriched by Giuliana Rancic’s commentary. “Jennifer [Love Hewitt] strutted down the carpet in this fitted Dolce & Gabbana dress. It gives her body a great shape, and she really owns this look. She’s oozing confidence.” Or this one, for Zoe Saldana: “Obsessed! I am in love with Zoe in this sparkly Elie Saab gown. She looks so regal and statuesque. She’s the epitome of glamour, head-to-toe perfection.”

Listen, I don’t know who Giuliana Rancic is, and I’m not interested enough to type her name into the Google search bar, and I don’t know if she has other jobs besides this one, and far be it from me to begrudge anyone a paid writing gig in this market, and I know I’m not exactly curing cancer myself, but SHOOT ME IN THE FACE before I ever take a job as soul-crushingly pointless as “gossip magazine fashion expert.” How do you even drag yourself to work every day, knowing that all you’re going to do is look at pictures of famous people and use vapid, shallow words to describe them to people who are looking at the same pictures? I mean, all the people who work at a gossip magazine are wasting their lives. But at least the writers and paparazzi are invading people’s privacy and thereby making a contribution to the forces of evil. We all choose whether we want to make the world a better place or a worse place, and they have chosen to make it worse — and that’s a legitimate decision. The fashion expert isn’t even doing that. “Uma Thurman is working it in this gorgeous Versace dress. I love the sheer detail. She looks great!” What is that? That’s nothing. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s not offensive, it’s not insightful. It’s the journalistic equivalent of a light, odorless fart. The magazine could print the photos with or without the commentary and it wouldn’t make any difference to even one person.

Anyway, here’s that feature where I quote something from a gossip magazine and then tell you what they’re really saying. All excerpts are from the Jan. 9 issues of OK! and In Touch.

What they say: “Finally, after years of sadness, Jennifer Aniston finds her happily-ever-after with Justin Theroux.”
What they mean: “We are contractually obligated to include a ‘Jennifer Aniston finds happiness’ story once per month.”

What they say: “Mariah Carey has gone wild shopping for her twins, dropping $100,000 furnishing a nursery for them…. The twins’ room has gold-trimmed walls.”
What they mean: “Mariah Carey has the same decorating tastes as Saddam Hussein.”

What they say: “Chris Brown … went out of his way to buy something that would certainly get him noticed: a shocking $1.5 million red Bugatti sportscar.”
What they mean: “Remember that time Chris Brown beat up his girlfriend? We don’t!”

What they say: “Gerard Butler is known for his twinkling eyes and devil-may-care swagger, but the Scottish sex symbol wore a rather different expression after a potentially life-threatening surfing accident!”
What they mean: “We’re so glad he didn’t die, or else that description would have been tacky.”

What they say: “According to several websites, Kate Gosselin was dipping into the dating pool once again…. Not so, says Kate, dismissing the rumors.”
What they mean: “The screeching harridan who had eight babies as an attention-getting device and berated her husband on TV until he left her has still not managed to find anyone willing to spend time in her company.”

What they say: “New York University film professor Jose Santana claims he was fired for giving James Franco a ‘D’ in a directing class.”
What they mean: “There was no way he deserved better than a D-.”

What they say: “Justin Bieber sang ‘Baby’ with his adorable 3-year-old sister, Jazmyn, at his concert in Toronto.”
What they mean: “Justin Bieber sang with a member of his target demographic.”

What they say: “Kim Kardashian thinks adopting a Haitian baby will help her seem less fake.”
What they mean: “Kim Kardashian thinks a transparent gesture that she copied from other celebrities will help her seem less fake. Don’t be too hard on her, though — it’s the first thought she’s ever had.”

What they say: “Britney Spears is excited to marry her fiancé, Jason Trawick. And after two failed marriages, she wants to do it right this time!”
What they mean: “Britney Spears will walk down the aisle only slightly buzzed, rather than flat-out stoned.”

What they say: “On a recent night out in Berlin, Ashton Kutcher appeared to be celebrating his newly single status — and he didn’t care who saw him.”
What they mean: “A guy who didn’t care if anyone saw him cheating on his wife also doesn’t care if anyone sees him being single.”

What they say: “Who’s your doggie? Can you match these pups to their celebrity owners?”
What they mean: “No matter how many of these pups you can match to their celebrity owners, you lose just for trying.”

What they say: “Nicole Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, took daughter Sunday Rose for a shopping stroll … and rewarded the little girl’s patience in classic fashion — by buying her a puppy!”
What they mean: “Nicole Kidman’s daughter is finally going to experience warmth and affection.”