The allure of a celebrity trainwreck: why can’t we get enough?

Charlie Sheen isn't exactly "winning" these days

The love affair with movie stars isn’t hard to dissect.  Movie stars  have been  seemingly given the perfect lives of wealth, beauty and opportunity. As a society we idolize them for a lifestyle we will never have and therefore accept, expect even, a certain amount of out of control behaviour.

When I was in High School I would religiously watch the staple of pop culture news, Entertainment Tonight. Maybe it was just Mary Hart’s trusting face, but I feel like by the time I got to university the entertainment news landscape had morphed into something seedy…  pure celebrity gossip, relishing in the embarrassing exploits of La La Land.

Trashy magazines and websites like Perez Hilton wouldn’t be around if there wasn’t a demand for it course; We’ve gone from the studios protecting their movie star property to TMZ following celebrities every move, to stars themselves like Charlie “winning” Sheen producing his own webcasts to add the cherry on his coo coo bananas crazy cake.

The Sheen phenomenon is an interesting comment on modern celebrity. Forget war and starving African children, this past March you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about Sheen. But as the disappointing sales of his subsequent one man show proved, we mere mortals will only stay on the train known as wreck for so long before we get off and move on.

Everyone loves a good celeb scandal, but of course just what KIND of trouble celebs get themselves into will determine their public persona. After all, who cares about drunk driving or drug possession when there’s the next great blockbuster to be made, right? Hugh Grant may have been caught with a hooker once, but since then has stayed clean (in the public eye at least) and  continues making obscene amounts of cash in ridiculous romantic comedies (btw seriously Hugh, it’s time to stop, the gee-shucks I’m a cute Brit doesn’t work when you’re heading into your fifties).

But when people like Sheen become known for consistently cheating on  their wives with prostitutes who he ends up locking in closets while having a coked out meltdown, it’s a little hard to have any sympathy and think he should continue to be the highest paid actor on the mysogynist trash known as  Two and a Half Men.

Lindsay Lohan is another perfect example of how when the train wreck goes on too long you lose public sympathy. Once upon a time people lamented how they felt sad for Lohan, a young girl sucked up by the Hollywood machine. Now it’s gotten to a point where people roll their eyes and wonder when her next court date will be. I mean seriously LiLo, if Britney was able to get her shit together enough to produce successful records, can’t you do it for one movie that’s not I Know Who Killed Me?

As someone who has never been rich and in the public  spotlight, I of course have no idea of the kind of pressure it takes to be successful in Hollywood. I can see how easy it would be to give into temptation when the opportunity is all around you, but I do wonder how much of movie star exploits aren’t just a ploy to get them noticed in a cutthroat industry. And I also wonder if people will ever realize that knowing all the celebrity gossip doesn’t make  you interesting by extension.

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One comment

  • “Trashy magazines and websites like Perez Hilton wouldn’t be around if there wasn’t a demand for it course…”

    Hollywood feeds the demand to keep its puppets in line. It’s like… listen up, Charlie, Hugh and Mel: here’s what happens to little pischers when you forget who owns you.

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