Who We Talk About When We Talk About Gossip
Now that Liz Smith has been put out to stud, we need to reevaluate our idea of "gossip." (Probably needed to do this anyway). Who's worth gossiping about anymore? Well, not Paris Hilton.
Getting less interesting by the day:
No one cares anymore. Non-celebrity celebrity hedonism is over. Hilton was on Craig Ferguson last night, and no one watched. No one cared. (Thanks, Jimmy Fallon.) All those once-reliable cash cow folks—Britney Spears, Ms. Hilton, Lindley Lormihan, Bruce Jenner & Family—they've no relevance anymore, now that all the disposable income has run out and we can't hope to party like them, or shop like them, can't even afford to care about them. Our braincells are valuable and expensive, and you won't get them cut-rate anymore, E!
The Media Elite
Graydon Carter, Anna Wintour, Tina Brown. Folks like these were once the kings and queens of media—the envy of wired-in New York cognoscenti, the connected and intelligent antidotes to those braying simps in the lesser entertainment industry. They demanded a lot, and ran everything. But now? Well, now everything is dying around them. More people care about the politico sitting next to Wintour than the leonine Wintour herself. Who talks about Carter's Waverly Inn anymore (besides area braggart Diablo Cody)? Tina Brown is still rattling around with her website, but it's more of a late-game compromise than it is the savvy, timely medium-shift she'd like us to see it as. These folks can still be newsworthy, for sure, but in the kind of way that had there been reporters around to watch graying T-Rexes raging at the encroaching meteor dust cloud, that would have been newsy too.
Actual Movie Stars:
Remember that great cry (or more like exasperated groan) that went up when Academy Awards producers cut to Angelina Jolie during Jennifer Aniston's presenting shtick? It seemed almost like an early death knell for the days of mass tabloid spin consumption and paparazzi bush hiding. Well, maybe they'll still hide in bushes, but we might just stop eagerly giving them a leg up to get in them. The truly big movie stars who once fascinated us—a George Clooney, a Julia Roberts, a Will Smith—now live behind such carefully orchestrated veils and curtains, and we've become so mutatedly accustomed to "access" (however false or not, however asked for [see above]) that some cover-story fluffer piece on Kate Winslet's brilliance in Revolutionary Road is boring, even worse useless. Frankly, who cares? The old gilded pedestal is starting to look pretty tacky and ugly and weak. And besides, there's far bigger game afoot.
We do care about:
Politicians and Their Floundering Lackeys
It looks as though, for the time being, the groundswell in American political interest is still holding, even though the Biggest Election Ever and the Hopiest Inauguration Of All Time have come and gone. We're still sniping at Sarah Palin (or, you know, her family), Obama's oopsies-making staff members, or bumbling bumble bee golly-shucks governors. These gossip targets feel far more pertinent, more urgent and relevant, and, dare we say, they actual mean something. We've seen, in the dizzying despair of the economy's last six months, how existing in a vacuum means we lose by default, for not paying attention. That period of willful, dangerous ignorance blessedly ended, and a new era of willful, only-slightly-less-dangerous heedism has caustically begun.
Wall Street Robber Barons
Obviously, Bernie Madoff is the biggest finance fish we're currently frying, but there are other scoundrels worthy of moral blacklisting and demon-hunty finger pointing. What do we do when tragedy blindsides us? We pick up the pieces we can, then begin the age-old sacrament of assigning blame. Once we've affixed targets to the backs of various financial gluttons, we just keep lobbing and lobbing until, hopefully, they go down, and stay down. Should there be some huge, unlikely miracle turnaround in our economic journey to the center of the Earth and then out the other end, then we'll have heroes, actual financial wizard banker heroes to worship. And then, you know, completely destroy.
As we've lost our hoop-and-stick sets, harpsichords, and Fortunatas cards to the repo men, we've been forced to find entertainment in the most basic of places: the human body. No, not sex. That stopped being fun ages ago. What we're concerned about now is what happens after sex, be it coitus-thirteen-year-oldus, or coitus-turkey-baster. You know, little kids with little babies and bee-stung (Jiiindalll!!!) single mothers, like Nadya Suleman, who've foisted fourteen oddity-laden children upon the world. Horrible freaks really are just like us, because they have no money and are ugly and have the same recliner as we do or whatever, but they've also taken one for the team and done terrifying things—single-handedly staffing a McDonald's skeleton crew with their vagina, or inverted their genitals for fratboy delight. When the Roman people were down, the Emperors would just throw a bloody, gladiator-splattered circus. This isn't that much different. You know, minus the dying and stuff.