“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.”