Friday, July 11, 2008

The Best Celebrity Blog.

Let me get this off my chest: Brangelina is a liar. They are liars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, until they prove otherwise.
The fact that the world is not being told they are liars is also a bad thing for our society.

Remember when Brad ("I'm rebuilding New Orleans, one dimple at a time") and Angelina ("Please take me seriously and forget I kissed my brother") showed their disdain for Africa by renting a country for a couple months before giving birth to McGruff the Crime Dog? Remember how they promised to pay $400,000 to the hospital they kept entirely to themselves for weeks?

A google search for "Brad and Angelina donate $400,000" comes up with nothing I can see to verify that they kept their promise and donated a sum equal to 0.006% of what they spent on the castle they bought now that they are renting France. So I don't believe that they ever donated the money.

That comes up today because now the pair sold or are selling their new babies... I mean "rights to the pictures of their new babies" ... for upwards of $16 million and are claiming that the money will go to charity.


Also, the person who's lucky enough to print the first pictures of the babies Angelina will never hold or even remember the names of can't call them "Brangelina" anymore.

They'll give in to these demands, the tabloids will, because those pictures will sell them a billion billion magazines, blanketing the earth in pictures of babies that are more loved by supermarket readers than they are by their parents.

I can't stand it. I can't stand the constant sucking-up and caving in and general toe-licking that some celebrities get. What in God's name have Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie done to deserve our attention or our respect or the right to pretend to donate photo money to charity or the right to determine what the press calls them? None. Still, the tabloid magazines, the Peoples and US Weeklies and OK!'s and others will continue to cowtow to Brangelina and pretend that the Madonnas and Brangelinas and J-Los of the world are nice people who love their children and who have talent.
That is a bad thing, for us who have to read it, and for society as a whole, because that kind of "reporting" is endemic and is indicative of a larger problem in our society: news reporters no longer report.

Which is why today I celebrate the Celebrity Bloggers, and particularly The Best Celebrity Blogger. If the Internet has benefitted humanity in any way-- the jury's still out on that -- then it is through the ability of regular people, regular people who don't necessarily want to give Brad Pitt a tongue bath, to have websites and make fun of the celebrities who the magazines are afraid to make fun of, a pasttime that serves a larger purpose than simply showing us NSFW photos; it helps, in its own way, to restore journalism to where it should be.

The world of journalism, in general, needs a kick in the shins, and bloggers are likely the only ones who will do that. If you listen to the news nowadays, you realize that it's mostly just reading press releass issued by presidential candidates. Major news organizations: running a story on how the candidates are going on Ellen a lot does not separate you from the Ellen shows of the world; at this point, most network news shows are essentially "The View With Stone Philips" and a couple of shots of an earthquake somewhere. We get some opinions from someone who is not qualified; we get 10 seconds of videotape of John McCain waving, and we get polls. Everytime I see a poll presented on a news show, I want to yell at the screen Opinions are not news or even facts! So presenting as a "news story" a poll showing that 47% of people surveyed think that oil prices are too high is... nothing.
"Hard news" is simply following after other reporting; it was only the last to fall. Sports reporters long ago stopped asking actual questions of their subjects for fear they'd be banned from the locker room and not get to go to the games in the press box. That's why Bill Belichick can have a press conference that doesn't consist solely of reporters asking over and over Why should you still be allowed to coach when you cheated?

Long before that, "celebrity journalism" stopped taking a tough stance... and, no, they don't take a tough stance, so don't try to defend them. Running pictures of celebrities whose bikini bodies are not up to snuff, or making fun of Britney when she's down, is not taking a tough stance. Taking a tough stance would be to say We'll pay you $15 million for pictures of the babies you might as well name "Publicity" and "Exposure" as soon as you prove to us that you gave that money to a hospital.

Taking a tough stance would be asking Madonna: Where's that little kid you bought?

But actual print magazines are not doing those things, because if they do those things, housewives will be offended by the suggestion that J.Lo does not, in fact, get up to feed or change her twins in the middle of the night, and J.Lo will be offended by someone reporting the fact that she does not, in fact, know the names of her babies, and sales of magazines will drop.

Bloggers to the rescue-- as always. Even without the help of Brian Setzer, bloggers have jumped into the breach and made fun of celebrities and pointed out when celebrities-- and gossiples-- are being fake or stupid or unlikeable, posting pictures of those celebrities most in need of a slapdown, and proving that there might be some merit to the "internet" yet.

These anti-celebrity blogs fall into a couple of categories. There are those that aspire to be real journalists, while not realizing that they don't have talent and are not that interesting. Naturally, those are the ones that rise to the top and get turned into TV shows or, weirdly, rappers. I ignore those; they're one step below the tabloids. While they pretend to be telling the truth about celebrities and poking fun at them, they're desperately trying to hang out with those same celebrities and join the tabloids. In that respect, these bloggers are like that nerdy kid that tried to hang out with the cool kids. At lunch, he'd be all Yeah, those cool kids are a-holes. But then he'd try to get into their party that night anyway by telling the football players that they played a great game. Those are the kids we would not let back into our D&D game.

There are also those who try to hard to be crazy and offending and end up being disgusting and stupid. We get it: you can swear on the Internet! I imagine that people who run these sites were also the kids who spent their time teaching others that equation on a calculator which ended up declaring the girl to be "LOOSE." Ha! Ha! But, really, I'd rather not see it.

Finally, there are those who get it almost right, and those who get it perfectly right. In the almost-right category are two of my favorite sites, ones I check throughout the day when I'm supposed to be "working."

The first runner-up is I Don't Like You In That Way. IDLYITW (like that?) does an okay job of making fun of the celebrities and gossiples that make up 99% of my news in a given day, but tries just a little too hard to be edgy to make the cut.

The second runner-up -- and maybe I've got these reversed. I don't watch shows that have runners-up, I watch shows that have Cylons. So if I've got these reversed, I'm sorry. The second runner-up is the celebrity blog that's finishing in second place, Celebslam. The one thing I really, really like about Celebslam is their ongoing feature "... is better than you," where Celebslam posts pictures of the houses that the stars buy, the houses that are going to make me a communist and eventually bring down America in a revolution that will make the French Revolution seem like a two-year-old's party -- a two-year-old's party that did not cost more than most people make in a year, a two-year-old's party that did not constitute, essentially, a celebrity spitting on regular people. Celebslam almost hits the right note, and " better than you" emphasizes that.

But The Best Celebrity Blog stands head and shoulders, blogaphorically speaking, above all the others, and is the one that for me served as my entryway into this phenomenon: The Superficial.

Celebrities and gossiples need skewering, but it has to be done just right. They need skewering because these are actors and actresses and singers and... well, people who are famous for no good reason whatsoever... who think that they are people of substance and people of note and people who will make an impact on history.

They will not, and they do not deserve to be treated that way. And the more they demand respect, the less respect they should be shown.

But that doesn't mean simply slamming them, or posting barely-spellchecked, ill-advised collections of obscenties. It has to be done with style and wit and fun, because then it makes the poking fun/skewering all the more memorable, and makes people want to read it.

The Superficial, The Best Celebrity Blog, has plenty of style and wit to go around. Here's the entry at the top of the page as I write this today:

Realizing she has the acting skills of a ham sandwich, Jessica Alba has turned her vagina into an ATM by signing a $1.5 million photo deal with OK! Magazine, according to TMZ:

We're hearing the two-part deal consists of pictures of the baby now, and one other "event" -- Christmas, Thanksgiving, vacation, etc. Our spy said Jessica initially turned down the offers of several weekly mags, not wanting to sell, but eventually caved.

Dear struggling actresses, models and reality TV stars,

If anyone of you are looking to cash in on the instant publicity and lucrative photo deals that come with birthing a child, I have a penis.Just saying.

The Superficial Writer

P.S. Please be hot and/or drive a beer truck made entirely of chicken wings.

There's nothing not right about that entry. It hits all the marks: Jessica Alba has no talent. Celebrities use their babies for publicity. People want to meet/date celebrities.

And topping it all off: a beer truck made entirely of chicken wings. I am not even sure why that's so great except that when I read something like that I instantly think man, I wish I'd thought of that, and that's a mark of genius.

Just randomly hopping around on the site lands you on a post that displays an equal amount of healthy skepticism of celebrities and humor, including the headlines of the posts, which I am incredibly envious of. The Superficial writer(s?) can pack more joke into a headline than I can into a week's worth of entries. Some recent samples:

Maria Francisca Perello is internationally bikini-fied

Madonna begged Jose Canseco to hit a home-run in her uterus

Jamie Lynn Spears: Let the baby pimpin' begin!

The Superficial also has proven itself to be a force without strained humor or weird drawings; the site took on the burning question of whether Kim Kardashian has a fake butt, and drew Kim's attention (which is hard to do, unless you have something shiny) to deny the allegation... proving, too, that you can ask the tough questions and still get gossiples to talk to you.

We're living in this weird world where there are millions and millions of sources of information and millions and millions of people telling us what's going on, but it somehow all boils down to the people that tell us the news let their subjects dictate what that news is. It sounds almost silly to say, but doing that erodes the quality of information in the world. One day, we all let Brad and Angelina insist that nobody any longer print stories about how crazy/weird she is and that we all pretend that they really give money to charity when they say they do... the next, we are focusing on whether a presidential candidate smokes instead of whether he as the leader of the richest most powerful country ever in the history of the world, he will use our resources to, say, make sure that children get basic health care.

It's all related; when we accept as "news" or "information" the "news" or "information" that the subjects insist we accept and print, when we do not question that information or insist that truth win out and hard questions be answered, then we end up with a world where people can lie about charity donations, cheat their way to a dynasty, and elect presidents who will wiretap our phones and lie to the U.N. The "Yellow Journalism" of the early 20th Century has become something new... call it pass-through journalism, the act of simply conveying the information your subject wants you to convey rather than questioning and investigating.

The Superficial is, in its own way, fighting back against that. Yes, the subjects are (as the site's own name says) superficial. But they're posting the truth and asking celebrities what amount to tough questions. That's more than Barbara Walters does anymore, and more than most newspapers do.

Plus, they make it funny and readable. So bookmark The Superficial, The Best Celebrity Blog, and read it daily. You will be entertained, and you will be helping stem the tide of pass-through journalism.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out The Hot Slut of the Day segment alone makes it worth visiting.