In Salon today, Rebecca Traister argues that "the golden age of celebrity gossip is grinding to an end." Ah, the golden age! When Starlets yet new! Traister notes the ever-increasing number of relatively random, famous-for-famousness' sake photo fodder who are splashed on the pages of fading mags like In Touch, Star, and People (only Us Weekly increased its readership last year). She says we're overloaded with inexplicable images, coupled with those "???" headlines hand-crafted by "evil geniuses" like Janice Min. Have we reached critical mass? She asks, "what heart of celebrity darkness is there to be exposed?" A good question. Surely something else about these people's lives can be laid bare. Though it may be scary and sad, like Traister suggests, and we may not like what we uncover. Sort of like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One strange thing about the piece is that it focuses solely on print media, ignoring completely the lurching, belching, bilious gossip monster that lives in your computer. Aren't we partly (mostly?) to blame for the daily glut of whispers and pictures and bitchy headlines that used to only abuse you once a week? The printed magazines, sure, are what get you by at the airport or in waiting rooms, but gossip blogs and the like get you through those forty heinous hours you spend dreaming of beaches and your sofa. What the blogs have done, IMHO (that's what you say, right?), is make reading gossip as banal, ordinary, and habitual a task as checking the weather or stock quotes (people check "stock quotes," right?). It may not be as exciting or memorable as it once was (Traister swoons particularly over the Brangelina vs. Jen thing), but it's become ingrained. Gossip is a part of you now.

And maybe that's what killed it! Maybe it's all become too mundane, as the brief, not so wondrous life of may show. As long as the actual end of "the golden age of celebrity gossip" is spurred by Heidi Montag stealing fire from the gods and Ashley Tisdale opening a sealed jar that inadvertently unleashes all of mankind's evil upon the world, well, maybe it was enough.

Who the Hell are Heidi and Spencer? [Salon]