Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Help me understand

Why would people give a rat's ass about Britney Spears getting divorced?

I find the woman totally uninteresting, yet her split with the supremely untalented rapper K-Fed was apparently the stuff of wide public interest. It feels like the Associated Press filed more alerts and urgents for it on the newswire than it did for the North Korean nuclear test.

The Globe and Mail, a fairly serious newspaper, ran the story on page A3 of Wednesday's newspaper. Maybe it would have made front if not for the U.S. midterm elections.

On Technorati on Wednesday afternoon, two of the top three search tags were Britney and Spears.

While I realize there is some interest in her, I really don't understand why.

For that matter, I can't understand why the personal lives of celebrities in general hold so much of the public's attention. I'm sure there are people who know the media constructs of “celebrities” far more intimately than they do the lives of real human beings surrounding them and who, in theory, should be much closer to them emotionally, let alone geographically.

Instead, these people invest enormous amounts of time “getting to know” celebrities that they will likely never meet in their lifetimes, let alone be real friends with.

There's something really distressing about that fact. Why shouldn't it be likened to having imaginary friends?

If people have some thoughts as to why this state of affairs exists, or can point to some articles of some good thinkers who have developed ideas on this topic, I'd be most grateful.


A classic black comedy on this subject is Martin Scorsese's 1983 film The King of Comedy.

Here's the dialogue when the wacko fan Masha, played by Sandra Bernhard,  is talking to kidnapped talk show host Jerry Langford, played by Jerry Lewis. He is in her apartment, swathed in tape from his neck down. Langford is being held hostage so Rupert Pupkin (Robert DeNiro's character) can get a comedy spot on Langford's show:

“I feel completely impulsive tonight. Anything, anything could happen,” she tells Langford.

“I have so much to tell you. I don't know where to start. I just want to tell you everything about myself, everything you don't know.

“Do you like these glasses (she “pings” one)? Crystal, beautiful. I bought them just for you. I don't know, there's something about them that remind me of you, the simplicity of them. But if you don't like them, even an inkling of doubt in your mind …” — Smash! Tinkle!

“You know, sometimes during the day I'll just be, I'll (be doing the) simplest things. I'll be taking a bath and I'll  say myself, 'I wonder if Jerry's taking a bath right now.' And I just hope you're not drowning or something. I just get really worried about you, like something terrible's going to happen.

“Then I have like these daydreams, like I'm out at the golf course just driving your cart, just driving around. 'Need a putter, Jer, you know? Need an iron?'” she chuckled.

“I don't even know how to play golf. I played with my parents once, my dad. I love you.

“I've never told my parents that I love them. Of course, they never told me that they loved me either, which was fine with me. But I love you.

“Want some wine? No? OK, I'm not in the mood to drink either though, but I'm sure in the mood to be alone with you.”

“Why don't we just clear off the table? I was thinking why don't we go upstairs, but that's so predictable. Let's just take everything off the table and do it right here.

“That would blow your mind, wouldn't it? It would blow my mind. I've never done anything like that before. I've never even had anybody over for dinner, let alone make love on the table.

“But somehow I just want to do that, I just want to, like, dance. I just want to, like, you know, put on some Shirelles. I want be black.

Wouldn't that be insane? You know what, you know who I wish I was tonight? I just wish I was Tina Turner, just dancing through the room. Boop! Boop!” she giggled.

Langford never spoke.

Thu, November 9 2006 » Main Page, Media, Minutiae