Upon lining-up to buy my groceries, I can always expect to see row after row of dubious publications printed on low-quality paper, bedecked with photographs of orange-complexioned Humanoid things in various states of states of anguish with salacious headlines narrating their alleged life-events. These people are supposedly celebrities, but personally, I don’t recognize more than one out of every ten of them, even with the captions loudly declaiming their identities. This however is almost certainly some flaw of mine; I have never even pretended to care about what is popular*. Could this be why I don’t understand the point of tabloids?
As far as I can tell, they are basically simple gossip writ large. I was hoping that I could therefore get some insight as to the point of such magazines by looking into the psychological roots of gossip. I found alot of plausible-sounding pop-psychology about how it is a “social weapon,” to be utilized to advance your own position (or at least your opinion of your own position), by levelling-out the people ahead of you. As I said, it seems plausible, but so does a lot of bullshit popular psychology. My question, though, is why presumably millions of people would devote their lives and money to producing and consuming this garbage. I could see, for example, if you had had a really bad day that you might want to read about someone famous fucking-up their lives badly, but surely even a moment’s reflection would make clear that the very fact that you are willing to pay money to read about their foibles means that they are still in a higher social position than you are. Moreover, as I told one of my Uncles one awkward Christmas a few years ago, it doesn’t matter how many affairs Tiger Woods has had, he’s still a better golfer than you.
I suppose that, accepting this to be the psychological root of gossip, the truth of falsehood of the actual “news” being reported is completely incidental. But even so, I don’t understand how all of the lies became such a byzantine mess. Looking at these stories from the headlines (which is really all that you actually need to do, frankly, to get the gist of them), you come away less with the impression that you are reading reports of actual events that have taken place, and more with the impression that you are reading the latest installment in an incredibly convoluted, melodramatic, and badly-written fanfiction about celebrity culture. It reminds me of nothing so much as an old acquaintance of mine who had an unholy fixation upon writing terrible stories about Johnny Depp getting pregnant. For the love of God, why does this exist!?!
…Anyways, all of that was a rather roundabout way of getting to a question I’ve been turning over in my head for awhile: If you found out that someone you’d never met was writing sexy fanfiction about you, would you be offended or flattered?
*Although I have been known to keep my taste for things which are unpopular under wraps.