I have a confession to make. I am slightly addicted to People Magazine. Well, that and US Magazine. I am inclined to slink away in shame at this admission, because I know that by actually enjoying reading these periodicals, I’m only feeding into the national Zeitgeist (or is it Volksgeist?!) into which we are currently plunged–the need for dish, gossip and mindless tidbits of information about people who we really could give a care less about. And while we’re all fixated on these celebrities’ behavioral nonsense–the skinny dipping with young men while donning ugly fedora caps, the addiction to adoption that borders on mania, the inability to cease addictions to heroin/men/attention/fill-in-the-blank–we’re bypassing all of those really important issues that should have us all permanently captivated and engaged in important debate.
Now, I will say with a modicum of self-respect that I do draw the line with those magazines. I wouldn’t even think about picking up some of the seedier tabloids. Nothing involving space aliens, mind you. But something about the, uh, marketing of those two magazines lends itself some perverse sense of credibility. As in “it’s in People, it MUST be true!”
I’ve tried to shake myself of this bad habit. There was a time–now I’m really admitting things–I had a subscription to People. What can I say? I got the dentist office discount from my dad. But that was back when my kids were small and my brain was fried and I couldn’t digest more than three sentences at night before passing out in bed from fatigue. At some point I made the leap from reading mindless blather to reading crazy things like literature. I guess it was the difference between ingesting potato chips for the brain or a good dose of broccoli. Although I don’t care for broccoli but I do love a good book. I did finally give up my subscriptions; I wanted to devote my limited reading time to something more meaty, I guess.
But the truth is, when I find myself approaching the check-out line at the grocery store, it’s difficult to bypass the headlines screaming out at me from People and Us. So I end up succumbing to the moment while paying newsstand prices, no less!
In a million years I could not really give a care about Britney, Paris, Lindsay or Angelina, but still, there’s something so embarrassingly compelling about watching their lives dismantle before our very eyes. And also being left to wonder if it’s a mere construct of some PR machine, bent on ultimately rebuilding these “celebrities’ ” images through a masterful positive publicity architectural design, or if these people are really so incredibly naive or gullible or downright stupid that they’re honestly bent on complete self-destruction through their inane actions on a regular basis, and actually want us voyeurs to peep in while it all goes down.
I suppose I must be gullible as well, because I can’t imagine that anyone who has so much “wealth” –be it financial, opportunity, adulation, or whatever–is honestly capable of throwing it all away. I still hold onto hope that Michael Jackson isn’t a creepy pedophile, even though all signs point to the contrary. It must be my innate faith in my fellow man…
I don’t know. I suppose that otherwise smart enough people like me can’t help but be taken in by the strange mystique of the tabloid is a depressing reality in our country today. But instead of succumbing to that grim notion, I’ll just hold onto the belief that it remains just a mindless diversion, a couple of potato chips in a broccoli-filled kind of world.
But lest you believe I’m a complete lost cause, I feel the need to to redeem myself. Does it help that the first thing I turn to in People magazine is the book review section?