Anatomy Of A Pointless Celebrity Gossip Story

Disclaimer: I have no idea why I’m writing this post. Am I suddenly a cultural commentator invested in tabloid journalism? Am I bored? Am I just morbidly curious because an actor I like is at the center of this non-scandal? (Answers: No, yes, and maybe.) Anyways, here it goes.

This morning, a very humorous and bizarre celebrity gossip story caught my attention, courtesy of US Weekly: “Jeremy Renner Is Going to Be a Dad, Ex-Girlfriend Is Pregnant!” Oh good lord. Please read the article and roll your eyes.

The first thing I did after reading this was rapidly fire off an email to my friend Ally. (If you listened to our podcast – snaps for the Ally and Joanna Show – the fact that I  constantly email Ally my rambling thoughts about celebrity gossip. She encouraged me to finally about this. But I digress.) My email went like this:

This Renner news is hilarious. First of all, it’s the sketchiest gossip reporting. Every news outlet is picking it up without any real sources. Someone overheard him talking to Eva Longoria? Who? Anonymous people, that’s who. It’s great. Meanwhile, Tumblr is flipping out. ONTD is even more convinced he’s gay and this is a surrogate pregnancy. Lainey Gossip’s post is just funny. Other blogs are… confused. But whatever. Renner is 42. Who gives a shit? Renner is still awesome. In other words, I need a life and this might have finally cured me of my Renner obsession. Time to write a self-deprecating blog post.

Now because my obsession with Renner is very well-documented, my friends got invested in my reaction. They expressed concern in Facebook wall posts:

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And text messages:

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It’s sweet that my friends are so concerned. But I really do not care. As far as I’m concerned, even if this is true, it’s a non-scandal. Why? Because this is the most absurd gossip item I have read in a while and so much is being made out of a non-story.

Let’s see. Anonymous sources overheard a conversation between two famous people at the exclusive smoking deck at the Golden Globes. (Repeat that to yourself a couple of times. It’s ridiculous every time you say it.) What has followed, naturally, is that every celebrity gossip website and news outlet picking up the story and repeating it without any confirmation. This kind of story can lead to some excellent, mind-numbingly dull, follow-up reporting, like comparing it to similar stories.

Here’s the thing: I am very much intrigued by celebrity gossip and how we consume it. I always have been. It’s not that I actually care about what happens in a celebrity’s personal life. But how we – the public – interact with celebrity is so convoluted and as result incredibly fascinating. Tumblr, for instance, has created a strange world for celebrity culture and fandoms, allowing fans to interact with each other and celebrities on a whole different level.

This story, like so many before it, going through “the cycle”. A crappy, questionably reported story is repeatedly repeated. People judge. Fandoms react and overreact. And then the story is recycled and rehashed from every conceivable angle. The internet becomes an embarrassment of riches when SEO is involved.

I don’t have a conclusion. This is the way celebrity gossip is procured and consumed these days. It’s a crazy, bizarre and fascinating cycle that everyone contributes to, even people like me who adamantly claim to not care. Because I do care. I really, really care.

3 thoughts on “Anatomy Of A Pointless Celebrity Gossip Story”

  1. Earlier today I had to kill time at a coffee shop. Their “news” ticker told me that (OMG) J-Lo was one of the people clapping the loudest for “her ex, Ben Affleck” after his Golden Globe win. Um…how did they even quantify that, why do we care, and does this news post serve simply to prove she’s not heartless? The sheer subjectivity of the idea she “clapped the hardest” is ridiculous.

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