Friday, May 16, 2008

Celebrity Overload

Sorry about the late post. Two sick kids and a lack of sleep have made me really ineffective today.
Been trying to narrow down blog topics, but the one that keeps coming back to mind is the current obsession with celebrities.
Maybe it’s always been there, but it’s really only hit my radar in the past five years. And it seems to have hit a frenzy lately.

What does this have to do with writing?

Celebrity gossip is the only reading a lot of people do anymore. And I’d say most of the gossip is fictional, or arranged. A washed up pop singer releases an album and gets married/engaged within a week of the album’s release, giving her a lot of media exposure which helps sell albums. An actress is promoting a new movie, around the same time she starts to date a hot actor. Nicely convenient.
Why do people care?

Because it gives them a fantasy. Impossibly good looking people leading glamourous lives, wearing beautiful clothes in exotic destinations. Sounds like the tag line for Harlequin Presents.

We even have the ‘good’ celebrities and the ‘bad’ celebrities. The good being the mother’s who manage to lose the baby weight in three days, campaign for underpriviledged kids, all while ensuring they look perfect out in public, while holding their adorable moppets.
What’s never mentioned is the four nannies, several maids, cooks and personal trainers behind the scenes.

Then you have the ‘bad’ celebrities, the ones who get caught DUI, sleep around, and somehow decided that underwear was bad. What is never brought up is how much of this behaviour is done to get attention.

Celebrity magazines give us heroes and villains, all dressed up with glossy pictures of beautiful people.

We writers don’t have the advantage of glossy pictures, but we can make our heroes three dimensional and more real. We can find ways to give our readers escapism, but still ground our stories in some sort of reality.

And maybe soon this celebrity obsession will pass. Because I’m so sick of hearing about Brittany, Paris, Nicole, and almost everyone else.

8 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

Some tabloid stories do sound like a back cover blurb for a Harlequin Presents.

I think people have been obsessed by celebrity for a long time, but it does seem to have reached a fever pitch of late...

Is it the internet? Digital cameras making it easier for non-professional paparazzi to snap and share images? Probably these things and more.

Sinead M said...

What's crazy are bloggers who post celebrity gossip have become minor celebs...
And people who done absolutely nothing are major celebs..

And I've decided not to watch Access Hollywood, or buy People till this is over and done with

Molly O'Keefe said...

It's a good point about who the "bad guys" are is basically about POV. In another light Britney is a misunderstood heroine. Angelina a love-starved mother with four nannies. It's fun to think about how we can turn our villians in one book into our heroes in another.

Sadly, I don't think the celebrity obsession is going anywhere. And I spent the other day obsessively remembering Heidi Klum's triumphant return to the runway like two months after her last kid. I didn't even make a triumphant return to pants with zippers after two months!

Sinead M said...

Who has the energy for a triumphant return to anything when most of us two months after giving birth are desperately sleep deprived and struggling to squeeze in a shower once a week.

Margaret Moore said...

On the notion of crying characters: I once read something I never forgot. I think it's in a book called FICTION IS FOLKS by Robert Newton Peck. He said, (and I may be paraphrasing here) "Put tears in the eyes of your readers, not in the eyes of your characters."

I'll often have my heroine cry or start to, then remember this. He also has a very poignant example of what he means. A mother has a son about ten years old who lightly and jovially swats her with his baseball glove when leaving for a game. Later, when the son turns out badly, the mother sits in a chair, holding her son's baseball glove. She's not crying, she's just holding that glove.

I tear up just thinking about it and talk about showing, not telling!

As for celebrities, I have it in my mind that back in medieval times, when the folks were sitting around the fire or in the tavern, they'd be talking about the nobles in the castle and passing judgment on their shenanigans. :-)

Kimber Chin said...

Margaret, GREAT tip about putting tears in eyes of readers, not in the eyes of characters.

I do have my heroines cry but that's because the cold hearted businesswoman is such a blasted untrue cliche (there's reasons why there are doors on bathroom stalls).

Celebrity is a safe way for people to talk about their own issues. I know that whenever there is a celebrity divorce (like Shania and Mutt), I touch base with the hubby big time. It gives us a reminder to talk about things, to spend more time together, etc.

Margaret Moore said...

I keep thinking that Britney is the new Judy Garland. Only with a lot more press coverage.

I don't think we should go back to the days when studios covered up so much (as portrayed in L.A. Confidential), but it's gone too much the other way for my taste.

Sinead M said...

It has gone too far. As far as one of the magazines reporting the child of a celebrity moving from bottle to sippycup, as if it were news, while thousands upon thousands of children have just died in China and Burma.
It's a bit of a sad reflection of our time.
People need an escape, but the worst romance offers a better escape than the best celebrity gossip.

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