There’s no denying the inescapable pull of celebrity gossip. Of course, there are many people who claim to be above it all. I call them liars.
We always want to know what’s going on in the spheres of the famous, wealthy and beautiful. I’m sure that some of the cave art depicts the story of a chief cheating on his wife or a buffalo thief who got caught – a kind of US Weekly, but with higher journalistic standards. Today, we get breaking celebrity news that carries the same weight as wars breaking out or natural disasters.
It’s hard to get worked up over things happening halfway around the world to strangers but somehow we all feel like we know our celebrities and have in depth, detailed opinions about their life choices. After all, haven’t we paid money to see their movies or can quote endlessly from their TV shows? What could be a closer bond than that?
In the last few months, we’ve had the “bad boys behaving badly” trifecta of Charlie Sheen (the original bad boy), Tiger Woods (the good boy gone bad) and Jesse James (is it any wonder?). All have delivered scandals that are a bonanza for TV therapists, gossip rags and blogs. But also apparently, for the rehab industry, which is now the go-to mea culpa for any activity not sanctioned by law or God.
It used to be that drugs or alcohol meant a trip to rehab. Somehow, 21 days of structure were expected to eradicate a lifetime of bad decisions. Going more than once became a badge of honor. A combination of fast therapy and spa (because we know that celebrities aren’t going to anything other than the Ritz of rehabs), this has become the cure-all escape for anyone caught doing something or someone they shouldn’t. Charlie Sheen even pioneered a new trend when he was caught over the holidays in a violent altercation with his wife -- he decided to go to rehab, without having a specific reason.
Hence, the “pre-hab,” when you need a “I’m going to a quiet place where I can escape the situation while looking like I’m trying to better myself” solution.
PR hacks everywhere rejoiced and sent gift baskets in thanks for the ingenuity. But now, if you’re a guy who likes to sleep with lots of women even though you’re married, you’re not a raging hormone, you’re just a sex addict who can also be cured through 21 days of rehab.
Tiger, instead of acknowledging the fact that he’s a male tramp (a mramp?), is now being treated for this “disease.” How can you be accused of any wrongdoing when you’re the victim of a horrible illness that has wrecked your life? And lastly, we have Jesse who’s in rehab for no particular reason (I don’t think neo-Nazism is one of the options yet) but frankly, who can blame him for wanting to stay on trend? When you’ve humiliated your world famous wife, what better solution than to isolate yourself in a monastery-like setting (with in-room massage)?
It used to be that celebrities would go for treatment or help quietly, not announcing their wellness plan in a press release. It’s not that rehab hasn’t helped countless number of people get over very real and serious issues, it’s just that celebrities are trivializing it. Now, I expect hourly Twitter updates -- “Had a great breakthrough. Turns out it’s all my father’s fault. Poolside quesadillas, yum!”
I’m also tired of the excuses. What happened to “I messed up?” Now it’s OK to steal the candy it, eat it and then when caught, say that the candy actually made you sick?
I know that celebrities are (or were) real people. They have bad hair days, get the flu, complain about their cable reception and argue who’s turn it is to take the dog out with their spouses. I can’t imagine how horrible and horrifying it is to see your life and its details (true or not) readily available to anyone searching online or buying a People magazine.
At the same time, I believe that the trade-off to making buckets of money and having tremendous success (directly or as the spouse of the celeb), means that the public has access to you. They’re the ones who helped bring about the money and fame, they can’t just turn off their interest because it’s inconvenient or unpleasant.
We care enough to talk about it with coworkers, argue about it with family and read up on all the latest details. And I’m sure that it also makes us feel a little better about ourselves – hey, if they can’t get it together, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about coming to work late. But we don’t get the rehab excuse, the ability to wipe the slate clean with some proactive soul cleansing.
It’s embarrassing that celebrities think so little of the public’s intelligence that they expect us to be taken in by such an obvious ploy.
We may believe in 3D worlds of blue people but we do know the difference between fiction and reality. I’d prefer that the celeb hop a plane to a Third World country, and spend a few months helping the poor in an attempt to regain who they were before they became a celebrity (without photo ops) rather than pretend that some elitist quickie therapy is going to fix their image.
But a seaweed wrap and strawberry smoothie in Malibu beats humility, accountability and humanity any day. How can you not love celebrities?