Friday, January 18, 2008


I was killing time on a subway platform one day this week, looking at magazine covers at a newsstand. One of them had a photo of Britney Spears on a stretcher, the word “INSANE!” hovering over her in big block letters.

Is it me, or has our societal fascination with celebrities taken on a really macabre edge? Sure, Britney and Lindsey and Paris and Tom Cruise all fuel these fires with their public antics, but our rapaciousness for news about them is alarming. It’s not just that I think we should be spending time on more serious subjects - though we should. It’s the cruelty associated with this celebrity-stalking.

I mean, poor Britney. The woman has lived her entire life, practically, under an intense public spotlight. No wonder she has issues. I’d have issues, too.

And Tom Cruise, well, he’s kind of an odd bird. I watched his Scientology video (courtesy of a link from the Web site of The New York Times!) and it made NO sense. Maybe it would make sense to an aspiring or practicing Scientologist. But the point is, Tom Cruise is allowed to hold beliefs that the rest of us find a little strange, and it’s chilling that doing so leads to such a feeding frenzy in the media.

A little celebrity journalism is fun. (Hey, I subscribed to People magazine in college.) And I realize that we focus on celebrities because we want to escape from the dour “real news” out there. But let’s try to have a little more compassion, eh? Britney Spears and Tom Cruise need to lead their own lives, and when they make a misstep, maybe we shouldn’t revel in it quite so much.

(Photo: Reflections on the Hilton hotel, 41st Street and Eighth Avenue, midtown)


  1. The photo is exquisite.

    People have always been completely fascinated with human drama. One of the downsides of fame is that famous people are scrutinized constantly. I think at the base of all the frenzy is a deep curiosity about the nature of human nature. I guess I'm saying I don't find it at all alarming. Same as it ever was.

    I don't read the gossip mags though ... they're just too mean.

    You're such a good person, Steve. You really are.

  2. I feel Britney's problem is booze or drugs or both--under that influence ANY person could act insane. In the old days the news would have reported on it briefly and then shunned her --and focus on other stars doing much less crazy things--we don't shock easily anymore, now it is all about shock and craziness. You can't live and NOT know who she is and what she's up to-- It has to make things worse for her.

  3. I think Britney, like so many others, is a victim of her own success. AND, sex and scandal sell - it ALL comes down to money - it's just a matter of who's making it. Personally, I find it all very sad, and yet I can become fascinated, too.

  4. Dennis gets tired of the constant media attention Dennis gets, but Dennis likes it too.

  5. I don't get why people care about these personalities.

  6. Wonderful and fascinating photo Steve. As for celebrities – I’m too old to pay heed to that stuff now. Too much to do, too little time.
    Ms Soup

  7. What's up with Tom Cruise? How does he rate a top "news" story?

  8. It is a conspiracy to divert our attention from real news. this is not like the old days where we read this for amusement in leisure time--this is headlines in major newspapers, this is dozens of tv shows discussing it--instead of true current events.