When originally posted, this entry celebrated The Onion as The Best Magazine. Then, in the June 14-20, 2007 issue, The Onion ran a feature it called its "First Annual Absolute Best," about which it said "[s]ometimes you just have to declare things the best."
They had features like "Best Use of Multiple Weapons in an Action Sequence," Best Oddball Legion of Super-Heroes Superhero," and "Best Bill Murray's Brother."
Sound familiar again?
So here' s the thing. You can't copyright an idea. The idea of declaring things The Best is obviously not new. But here at TBOE, we feel very strongly that the format we've chosen -- declaring things the best in categories ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary -- is unique. Up until The Onion ran their piece, we were not aware of anyone else anywhere doing anything like this.
Writers work hard to come up with creative, funny ideas and make something unique for you to love. At TBOE, we slave over these entries and spends hundreds of hours on this per year.
Then you turn around and see someone doing the same thing.
If The Onion wanted to name The Best things in unusual categories, all they had to do was ask. TBOE did it first, and did it best. The Onion can chase after us, but they'll never catch us.
Because of this, we have REVOKED The Onion's standing as "The Best Magazine," and have instead replaced it with this category.
Update, June 15, 2007: I went to The Onion's site today, thinking I might forgive them because I really think "The Hater" is funny. And I see this intro to their article: "Just what it says: We name the best of everything." (I added the underline.) Nice.
I'm torn about how to post this nomination because (a) it's hard to know what to label it, hence the title, and (b) it's hard to narrow it down between the two best subjects, and (c) it's kind of embarrassing to admit just how much, as a percentage, of my time is devoted to consideration of these subjects.
I mean, I have a bachelor's in political science, and a law degree. I spend 40-50 hours per week litigating serious cases. I have run for public office, and written serious treatises and given lectures on weighty subjects. I've been considered for professorships at one of the country's top schools. But when it comes down to it, I'd say 60% of my conversation deals with people like Paris Hilton. Who, as you might surmise, is who I am nominating for The Best Gossiple?
I'll dissect the hesitation en route to explaining the nomination.
Because I feel I should be engaged in headier pursuits, I'm going to deconstruct this a bit.
First, the title of the category. I coined the word "gossiple" a while back. I use it when I'm talking about someone who most would call a "celebrity" except that they've done nothing for us to "celebrate." (But maybe the word "celebrity" doesn't mean as much anymore, since the number one meaning is now just to be "widely known.") A "gossiple" is someone who is famous for reasons that would be gossip if it was about the person in the next office. Did you hear about Jim? I heard he videotaped himself having sex with that girl from accounting. See? Gossip, not celebration. My use of the word "gossiple," though, implies that these are less than weighty subjects. They aren't even celebrities, so I should be spending less time on them, right?
Wrong. I spend more time on them. I can tell you that the total amount of time spent discussing the war in Iraq in my house is less than it took me to write that paragraph. And it's not like I'm trying to have serious discussions, either. I'm more than happy to dissect Paris' life, or Britney's marriage. In fact, I think gossiples are perhaps more fun than celebrities. Think about these two conversational lead-ins, based on true life events peeled off Google today (these being the top stories that came up on Google news by typing in the names):
Come on, which of those do you want to talk about? Plus, gossiples regularly appear scantily clothed (if at all) while "celebrities" have some shame and therefore less Internet appeal. Which would you rather have alongside this story:
It's not that I'm completely uninterested in world affairs or serious subjects. I'm just being honest with myself.
So "gossiples" loom large in my life, which is how this category had to eventually make it on here. But I wasn't sure that "gossiple" was the best label because, like I said, it's a made-up word and it might not be accurate to say there's any difference between a "gossiple" and a "celebrity" anymore.
Especially when the gossiples are going to make the weeding-out harder by going and doing something with their lives beyond simply living them in such a manner as to make them good gossip fodder. By which I mean, once I get comfortable calling Paris a "gossiple," she goes and achieves something. You'll scoff, you'll all scoff, but it's true. I'm not talking about her ghost-written book or eponymous perfume, or the tv shows or the sex tape. Those are simply hallmarks of fame here in the early 21st century. I'm talking about the music. Paris Hilton has made two, count them two good songs so far. By my count, that puts her two ahead of the Simpson sisters, combined.
First, there was "Stars Are Blind." I heard that song ing into work one morning, and left it on out of curiousity. (The middle daughter had been in control of the radio the night before.). And I liked it. Liked it enough to download it onto my iTunes (where, to retain my cred, I'll note that it resides just after The Paper Chase and just before Parks and Recreation.)
I thought that was just a curiousity, though, and figured it was a one-time deal, like the one Michael Jackson song I liked. But then her second song came out, and I watched that video, too. And I liked that song, too. So I was really confused, because now here was a Gossiple who had achieved something. (I know, she doesn't write or produce, etc., but, hey, Elvis didn't write or produce all his own songs.) So then I wasn't sure that "gossiple" was the word, still (but I'll stick with it) and I wasn't sure that Paris Hilton was a gossiple, but I'll stick with that, too, since I decided that she's a gossiple for becoming famous before she actually did anything. So the title of The Best Gossiple? (including the question mark) will stick.
Having now settled on a category, I had to narrow the nominees down to one. Like presidential elections (and that segue would tell you how my mind weights the relative importance of gossip and politics: A nomination of Paris Hilton is like a presidential election. Oh, how my old professors would be dismayed!)(Purists will note that I also compared Paris to Elvis. I have no shame.) But to carry on: Like a presidential election, these nominations tend to grind down to the two frontrunners, and there was an obvious second choice for the Best Gossiple?, the anti-Paris, if you will:
Britney is the anti-Paris because she achieved something first (and achieved something very similar, in my mind, that being my unexpectedly liking a song she sang [but it wasn't one of the famous ones, it was this.] Despite that early pace-setting, Britney descended to the level of gossiple through the well-chronicled events of her life. When was the last time she even released a song? Or starred in a movie? Or did anything but be mentioned in the tabloids for something other than an achievement? Someone dropped onto Earth today and checking out our news (or, at least, my news) would wonder why we cared about Britney Spears, because she appears (now) to be famous for marrying losers, imposing identical initials and almost-identical birthdays on her babies, nearly dropping those babies, and otherwise doing not much else besides hanging out in scanty clothing. She is, therefore, a gossiple despite her former achievements.
And, she held my attention in a way that not many people do. I was, in the past, riveted by Britney's life. Quickie marriages, visiting the ex's kids, ill-advised pregnancies, stopping payments on K-Fed's credit cards, simply being married to Mr. Popozao, it was all too much. I loved it. It was the intellectual equivalent of the junk food I love so much. It was the only thing, in the summer of 2005, that could while I recuperated from back surgery distract me from my morbid fascination with watching Nancy Grace's hyperventilating, pure-speculating, overwrought coverage of Natalee Holloway. (I love Nancy Grace's kind of questioning. She'll get a defense attorney on there and say something like With the evidence stacking up against this suspect in a way that makes me wonder why our founding fathers even bothered with the innocent until proven guilty thing, Mr. Defense Attorney, what I'd like to ask you is why you love child molesters so much? and then, when the defense attorney sputters and tries to work her way out of that one, Nancy cuts her off and goes back to her law enforcement guest and says See, Chief of Police? No defense here. When will they hang him?) And Britney could tear me away from that so that I could find out she'd dropped the baby or bought $10,000 worth of watches or something.
So I was torn. Who to pick, who to pick, who to pick? How can I choose between these two worthies? And how could I actually tell people that I'd spent time not just thinking about these two, but thinking which one would be a better nomination for a category on this blog? I, who have spent time pondering the great art of the world, perusing literature, unraveling the mysteries of creation, have spent perhaps an equal amount of time in deep thought about who was more worthy of this entry, Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.
Let's look at them again, and then I'll get into the actual nominatin':
So, with my embarrassment out in the open, with my absolute lack of intellectual depth exposed to society, you are now asking, Why Paris Hilton? That's what you're asking, right? And I'll tell you why Paris beats Britney, in short, declarative sentences (for a change.)
When you Google "Paris," Paris Hilton is the fourth entry down (at least as of this posting.) She is preceded by three entries on "Paris," the City. The CITY has been around for hundreds, thousands, of years. It has played a major role in human history. It is home to great art, great architecture, great thinkers... and it's almost being surpassed by its namesake. A whole generation is going to associate the word "Paris" with an entirely different sort of Eiffel Tower, if you get my drift.
And, Paris gets no sympathy. She continues to engage our attention while being almost universally reviled. (I don't revile her, but everyone else does, or says they do. They don't, though, or she would no longer be famous.) Britney had to resort to tears to get us to stop insulting her. (And even then, she went and did this,losing that sympathy.) Like the Buffalo Bills, I guess, I have a soft spot for people that nobody else likes.
Then there's the fact that Paris is on her way up. Like I mentioned, Britney has fallen from celebrity to gossiple. But Paris has made the climb out of the pit that contains Nicole Richie, Anna Nicole, anyone who ever appeared on Survivor, The Real World or similar shows, and a host of others to stand... well, just beside that pit, but out of it nonetheless. Back someone who's climbing, I always say.
And, finally, Paris is involved in everything. I used to think that Puff Daddy was the center of the fame universe, but I think that it now revolves around Paris. She's not just on reality tv and singing; she's also dating Travis Barker, feuding with Lindsay Lohan, questioned in that weird Girls Gone Wild case, pranked in the UK, involved in some kind of lawsuit that included her not knowing the Prime Minister of the UK (which is obviously the intellectual level I'm headed for) ... I could go on, or you could just go to The Superficial, like I do, to find out what else she's been doing.
So that's what it comes down to. Once you, like I, are willing to admit that you spend a lot of time thinking about these people, too (and come on, Star magazine isn't going bankrupt) and once you actually spend that time thinking about it, and then you start talking about it, odds are you're talking about Paris Hilton. Or you should be. And you will, beginning with watching this: