“Unsurprisingly, male stars generally have an easier time of it than the ladies when it comes to growing older. Cue the surprise and shock. As we’ve indicated, Hollywood has some astonishingly retrograde ideas about gender, so it’s probably not surprising that the industry’s norms on appropriate dating ages stopped evolving around 1850 or so. Men with faces like parched deserts routinely date and even marry women whose high school diplomas are still drying. It doesn’t exactly make them appear younger, but it’s enough to keep them viable as celebri- ties for a little longer. His adult children will mostly refuse to be seen in public with his new child bride, and once she has a baby, the public will silently tsk at him for his irresponsibility while begrudgingly admiring him for still being fertile at his age.
Compare this to the lady side of the aisle, where a forty-year-old female star with the kind of bikini body that 95 percent of twenty-year-olds would kill for gets raked over the coals by the press and the public for allowing someone under the age of thirty to find her attractive and have sex with her. She’ll get compared to predatory animals and generally be seen as a slightly sad figure, trying desperately to stave off her inevitable descent into irrelevancy. Fortunately, most of these ladies couldn’t give less of a shit what the rest of the world thinks of them (hence the sleeping with men decades younger than they are), and they ignore the constant frowning and poo-pooing being directed at them in order to concentrate on having yet another orgasm that day.”
“Sometimes a star reaches a point where the arrests happen more frequently than financial reports or she’s done something that the public, not to mention the authorities, can’t easily forgive, like desecrating the flag or being photographed shooting up while nursing her baby. This is when you separate the winners from the nominees. It’s sink or swim time, and if a star has that special something, she’ll reach deep inside, find that inner strength, pry that rock out of her nose, wash her hair, borrow that dress, and show up on the courthouse steps sporting an eight-hundred-dollar pair of sunglasses and a renewed sense of purpose. The lesson here is, when you hit rock bottom, dress like you’re here to pick up your award.”
“It’s not that we love assholes so much, and it’s not even that we love celebrities (although that is, of course, a huge part of it). No, it’s because once again, a celebrity stands in for our own fears and desires, and when one of them simply snaps, while standing in front of forty paparazzi, we try to see some part of ourselves in them, some bit of our own struggles reflected in the actions of the wild-eyed, underfed teen pop star shaving off her eyebrows on a sidewalk at 3:00 a.m. And when some middle-aged overpaid douche bag, after years of living in a diamond-hard bubble of privilege, has a tantrum that escalates into a full-blown psychotic episode, again we rise to our feet as one and cheer. Not because we love overpaid middle-aged douche bags of privilege, but because there isn’t anyone out there who wouldn’t love to indulge in a little “Fuck you, world” moment. But since almost all of us have to live with the consequences of our actions in one form or another, most of us never do it, preferring instead to applaud the privileged few who are allowed to live as consequence-free a life as we will grant them. Of all the odd celebrity/fan relationships, this one’s easily the oddest.”
"It’s always great if the singer can collapse on stage in midsong, in front of an audience of thousands. If nothing else, the phone videos on the Internet will be the most discussed item of the week. If there’s vomiting involved or pyrotechnics gone wrong, all the better. Besides, it’s always kind of hilarious when they do it, especially if there’s dancing involved; the backup dancers always hesitate for that one split second, wondering if she’s improvising and maybe she’s going to start popping and locking or spinning on her head or something.”
“The far more likely route that a desperate, post-flop star will take is to run into the comforting arms of past career triumphs and try to replicate them. These are the rom-com stars who wind up making ludicrously dramatic and glamorous epic love stories, playing characters much younger than their actual age. Or the aging action star who thinks the last movie flopped because he didn’t make enough implausible leaps from moving cars to moving trains. Basically, these are the stars who run from career failure straight into a new project that’s all about saying to the public, “This is why you love me, right?”
“Having played out every major life event and career triumph in front of an audience of millions, a celebrity will quite often develop a messiah complex and decide that what the world really wants from her is to tell it what to do. Despite the supreme condescension, this is often born out of a fear of career or public decline. It’s every insecure busybody friend you ever had, writ large. You know that friend who’s always bouncing checks and dating guys with teardrop tattoos but takes the time out of fucking up her life each day to tell you what you’re doing wrong with yours? Imagine if that friend had a publicist.”
"The very best kinds of celebrity break-ups, the ne plus, is when each person involved is a singer. Oh Jesus, can you ever expect some lyrical payback when that happens. Actors don’t always get the chance to let their personal life inform their work so directly, but singers are encouraged to do so and rewarded for it. If those singers just happen to be bitter, vindictive, immature, and attention seeking, so much the better. Male rap and female country stars get the prize for most vindictive lyrics, but the dance-floor divas can achieve immortality if their song of triumph after pain becomes a gay or bachelorette party standard.”
“Celebrity adultery scandals come prepackaged with a set of archetypal characters, so that everyone gets to identify with one of them. Whether it’s a ladystar cheating on her celebrity husband with another celebrity or a male star cheating on his celeb better half with another ladystar, each character in this melodrama gets cast in one of three roles: the Temptress, the Bad Boy, and the Victim. There’s no room for any other interpretations. It always gets boiled down to a simplistic scenario straight out of a 1950s melodrama. Or The Old Testament. No matter who cheated on whom or who bears the most guilt, or which one of countless scenarios played out to get to this point, it always comes down to the Temptress, the Victim, and the Bad Boy.”
“Continuing the practice of inducing maximum nipple-tweaking anticipation in the press and the public, it is important before a celebrity buys an African baby that she announces to the press her intention to buy an African baby. Optimally, this announcement should come six to nine months before purchasing. This ensures endless coverage and speculation as to the size and shape of the star’s hypothetical African baby. Smart stars will keep the topic on everyone’s minds by having “passport issues” or “custody fights” with their potential African baby’s “parents.”
“Imagine the royal courts of Europe around the sixteenth century, a time when the church wielded enormous power over the lives of the aristocracy and marriages were granted or annulled based on how willing several parties were to go to war. Now, replace all the princes and princesses, kings and queens with recording artists, reality stars, and actors, and all the bishops, cardinals, and popes with publicists, paparazzi, and high-ranking entertainment industry executives. Celebrity weddings, with their multiple competing agendas, loads of money on the line, massive public interest, and monumental displays of ego, are like the court of Henry VIII, except with spray tans and much tinier dresses, movie deals and recording contracts instead of wars and trade issues.”
“It is important for stars considering dating other stars to make sure their first names combine into a catchy, easy-to-remember portmanteau. This will come in handy when cover space is at a premium on the latest Us or People and the two of them are photographed walking down the street together in ridiculous outfits their publicist secured for them. A celebrity can’t take chances. Pictures of the two of them “cavorting” (similar to canoodling except there’s more laughing and jumping involved) on a beach or picking out plums together at a farmer’s market could get bumped if someone famous dies or gets arrested that same week. For a celebrity, there’s a constant race against other celebrities’ misfortune.”
“Every time a celebrity pivots out of her limo seat and stands up with an immediate smile and wave to the crowd, she knows that what she’s doing at that moment will be covered widely by entertainment journalists and bitchy bloggers from all over the world. If she’s lucky and she makes the right choices, she’ll wind up on the entertainment news shows and possibly on a best-dressed list or two, thereby keeping herself in the public eye while at the same time generating positive press. If she does badly, an unflattering photo of one of her body parts will appear next to the words “What Was She THINKING?!?” at supermarket checkout counters the world over. If she does really badly, she will have inadvertently supplied the cover picture for her unauthorized biography. The stakes are high, and to the celebrity, that’s not a carpet she’s walking, it’s a minefield.”
“But the celebrity has spent most of her life cultivating the most bizarre, ridiculous, and unworkable ideas about how bodies are supposed to look, such as postpartum women needing to be bikini ready before the umbilical stump dries up and falls off their baby. Or people in their seventies naturally having tight jawlines and only mild crow’s feet sprinkled on a smooth-as- glass face. Or that white people have naturally orange skin and most black people have glossy, pin-straight hair. When you get into the more extreme beliefs, you find yourself pondering anal bleaching. And darling, no sane person should ever be worrying that his asshole isn’t white enough.”
"The more daring of the male stars could cultivate an image of is-he- or-isn’t-he with the gay community, who can be terribly loyal to a budding star so long as he maintains visible abs and a willingness to display them. For these pouty-lipped faux-intellectual boy ingénues, no gay magazine cover will be turned down, and they will happily lift their shirts and give deliberately vague answers to the press about not wanting to label themselves when asked about their orientation. Since actual closeted male stars tend to answer such questions more declaratively, you can bet any boystar cocking his head and giving the puppy eyes on the cover of Snooty Gay magazine is simply a smart straight boy learning how to work the press—and one particularly devoted segment of the audience.”
“For the pre-celebrity who salivates for fame and doesn’t particularly want to work all that hard for it, the best and surest option is to take matters into her own hands right from the start and have sex with a dimwitted sports or singing star whose head is so far up his own ass he can’t even tell when there’s a camera rolling in a hotel room. Full frontal nudity is acceptable, but an on-camera sex act will only work to her benefit if performed discreetly and in a ladylike manner. She’s hoping for a Chanel contract someday, and that’s never going to happen if the public’s first image of her involves visible stickiness.”
“Stars are made, of course. They’re made out of attention and compromise, not to mention an overwhelming need to be loved while keeping the world at arm’s length. They’re made in a vat known as the entertainment industry complex, with swirling, bubbling ingredients like mind-gnawing ambition, selective amnesia, and just a pinch of personality disorder. Then they’re stamped out in cookie-cutter shapes with the rough edges smoothed off, ready for public consumption; eager for it, in fact. A row of happy, smiling products on a shelf, like cereal boxes with dreams.”
“[Celebrities’] lives are based on a double-barreled combination of conformity and illusion, and their value is wrapped up in their looks and how young they can plausibly appear to be. These are not role models, these are cautionary tales.
Even worse, celebrities write countless books and give endless interviews telling people their philosophies of life and somehow they’ve not yet managed to improve humankind in any measurable way, except for a brief period in the eighties when everybody took up aerobics, but there was a lot of spandex involved so it was kind of a trade-off.
We don’t believe anyone should look to us for advice any more than you should look to celebrities, but if you must look up to them, then at least look up to them for their self-confidence, and the ways in which they use it to craft a seemingly invulnerable persona and then force the world around them to accept it. We could all use a little more of that in our lives and a little less fretting over our hips or whether our clothes are cool enough.”