FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Kim Kardashian and Global Warming

by CLANCY SIGAL

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.”

— Leviticus 19:16

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

— Oscar Wilde

Waiting around in doctors’ offices my eye will greedily fall on gossip magazines like People and US.  I would happily read the National Enquirer and The Star if available, but usually the only other options are Golf Digest and Time Sharing Today.

Since boyhood I’ve been an insatiable scanner of celebrity gossip.  In olden days, on drug store magazine racks, in fanzines like Photoplay and Modern Screen, movie studio p.r. departments peddled gloriously false profiles of their stars or worked equally hard to cover up blemishes like abortion, drug overdose and murder.

Blame my fondness for gossip on an abusive childhood.  That is, abused by Chicago’s two great Hearst tabloids screaming headlines like “24th WARD RABBI SLAIN IN SECRET LOVE NEST = WIFE ARRESTED!”.

When I should have been doing my arithmetic tables I devoured columnists like Walter Winchell, Leonard Lyons, Ed Sullivan, Louella Parsons and “Cholly Knickerbocker” – all of whom had a distinct political or personal agenda.   (See Burt Lancaster as the venomous gossip columnist in Sweet Smell of Success.)  With a single keystroke the scandal mongers made and broke lives and cemented in us readers a reflex of permanent excitement.

My mother was horrified by my childish fondness for the “goings about town” of famous people. Yet she too couldn’t stop from peeking at accounts of Charlie Chaplin’s underage sexcapades or the child custody trial of, say, the movie actress Mary Astor whose diary, in open court, checked off, by the numbers, how many orgasms her latest lover had given her.  I didn’t know what an orgasm was, but my redheaded mother sure did.

The latest gossip hooks, of course, are “household names” like Justin B; Woody-and-Mia-and-Dylan-and-Ronan-maybe-out-of-Sinatra; Julia Roberts because the half sister killed herself blaming Pretty Woman in a five-page rant; royal Will & Kate; “Patrick Swayze’s Widow Finds Love Again”; Sharon’s Struggle With Aging (“I looked at my body and I cried”); Charlize and Sean “Moving In?”; Kanya and Kim.

Kim who?  If you don’t know about this bigassed reality show “star”, my dear, you’re not in the swim.  (Note: bigassed is not sexist, racist or insulting since Kim deliberately has herself photographed in skimpy bathing gear to sell her bum-bum, JLo redux.).

How can any person who pretends to be serious or have a political brain digest this licensed sadism?  Who has the time or the taste for such drek?  As we used to say in the army, “Sir, no excuse, sir.”

If you add up the circulation figures for People, Cosmo, O, Maxim, ET, Vanity Fair, GQ, Star etc. plus TV’s (unapolegetically racist and sexist) TMZ, and Wendy Williams, View (what? you don’t know about Barbara Walters’s vibrator), you get a fair sized audience probably exceeding the Tea Party, MoveOn, Rachel Maddow’s viewers and probably all the combined other parties as well.

Each celebrity-gossip outlet has its demographic niche – and its agenda.  The trick is to decode it if you’re interested, which I am.  (Full disclosure: I worked on British Vogue and various other glossies.)  Layout, typography, placement and choice of items, use of color (yellow is best for magazine racks) reveal the psyches at work in editorial offices.  There’s open season to be nasty on some personalities (Woody Allen, Justin Bieber, Alex Baldwin, Lindsay Lohan et al), taboo on others.  On race, for example, the gossips shrewdly navigate the p.c. minefields.  Denzel is out of bounds but not certain rappers.  Let’s not even talk sexism which is embedded in the very birth throes of the gossips.

And, as we have seen in Graydon Carter’s spineless spiking of an assigned piece on Gwyneth Paltrow in VF, celebrities very often wield a powerful veto, especially those who are domiciled in the UK with its punishing libel laws.  Celebrities like to play a Laingian double bind game pioneered by the British royal family: please shower us with publicity without which we would die but don’t you dare actually do a little digging or suffer a lawyer’s writ or, worse, your name spitefully excluded from next year’s Honors List.

No issue of a gossip mag is complete without crocodile tears for a cancer survivor, romantic breakup or disabled child’s remarkable recovery.  (See Nathaniel West’s Miss Lonely Hearts for a diagnosis.)  Readers like me eat up this stuff, identify, empathize, shake our heads or sneer “Who made her President” when some publicity hound teenager muscles his or her way onto a cover.  The trick is to know who these people actually are.  Most are incredibly obscure sit-com or sit-drama actors who inhabit the cultural 7th circle of Hell few of us dare enter.

Kim Kardashian and global warming?  A scientist friend is teaching me, a previous skeptic, about the “ocean’s death march”, acidification and the blocking effect of carbon dioxide on the sun’s radiation.  The problem is, my science friend cannot take on board how the same mind can embrace the dangers of excessive quantities of CO2 as well as Kim Kardashian’s derriere.  You see his problem?

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives

 

 

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail