Losing touch with InTouch

It’s time to come clean about my rehabilitation from an embarrassing addiction to weekly celebrity gossip magazines. I know it will generate a lot of eye rolling and groans, but recent events have caused me to evaluate my problem. I started reading my mother’s copies of Vogue when I was about 14.

When my knowledge of the fashion industry exceeded that of my peer group, I decided to start reading something more age appropriate. At the time, teen magazines were wonderful. Colourful and glossy, they contained the perfect amount of beauty, fashion and celebrity chit-chat.

As I got older, I moved onward to bigger and brighter publications. But chit-chat soon became too tame and I wanted scandal. There was a void that was forming, and it could only be filled by the celebrity machine.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of time and money spent on the fascination and goings-on of celebrities.

Us Weekly, the crème de la crème of celebrity news, contains a very successful section called “Stars—They’re Just Like Us!” which features photographs of celebrities walking their dogs, getting parking tickets, and diving into pools, along with everything else that regular humans do. But still, regular people are left remarking in some disbelief, “Wow, Jessica Alba actually walks her own dog!” And I used to count myself among them.

In the prime of my obsession, I was reading Us Weekly religiously, and if that wasn’t enough to satisfy me, I would stoop to buying the less-accurate and more-scandalous gossip rags like Star or InTouch. And this made my devout Us Weekly friends frown.

This September, I went to the Toronto International Film Festival and coincidentally selected some films with big celebrities as their headliners. Because filmgoers are herded into the theatres prior to the A-listers, I didn’t get a chance to witness them on the red carpet. However, I did see them when they finally made it inside. It was during these moments when stars like Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Schwartzman, Julianne Moore and Claire Danes would attempt to make their way to their seats that I realized how much we regular people felt entitled to something from them. Without saying a thing, people would approach them with cameras and get snap happy. The celebrities appeared to look through the crowd, smiling at some distant object. I started to feel incredibly embarrassed and found myself sinking lower into my seat. After my fifth film where a similar occurrence had taken place, I was so mortified I wasn’t even looking up from my book. Over the course of the festival, I witnessed first-hand the ugly side of celebrity. The stars became walking photo ops who seemed to owe us something. And the thing is, they don’t owe us anything. I decided then and there I didn’t want to fuel this machine anymore. I want to celebrate what they do, not how well they parallel park their cars.

This is why I’ve decided to put down the gossip magazines. I now walk a bit faster by that rack in drug marts and grocery stores. And I don’t even mind, because the news is always the same. Unless, of course, Jessica and Nick are on the cover. I always succumb to that one.

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