Tahlequah Daily Press

July 30, 2012

On tabloids, celeb affairs and bats in the belfry

Managing Editor

TAHLEQUAH — I’m simply beside myself over the news that Kristen Stewart has cheated on Robert Pattinson. How can we ever go on?

If you’re my age, you might not know who they are, although you may be able to identify Marion Morrison (see last week’s column). If you can identify all three aforementioned individuals, you’re probably one of about four women friends of mine, who are all my age and obsessed with the “Twilight” series. Perhaps I should say they “were” friends, because they might not remain so if they suspect I’m dissing their fantasy storyline.

That’s not my intention. Just because I find the “Twilight” book series a tad lacking in depth is no reason to ostracize me. And, hey, I have a First Amendment prerogative to opine on how the concept of sparkling vampires is slightly on the silly side. My refusal to squeal and claw at my face when I glimpse a movie trailer depicting vapid vampires and beefcake werewolves should not automatically consign me to a state of isolation.

But the “Twilight” series is one thing. Celebrity fetish is quite another.

Who gives a fat rat’s patootie if Kristen’s been cuckolding Robert with her “Snow White” director, Rupert Sanders? Maybe she reasons one Brit is good as another when it comes to hot-and-heavy hijinks behind the curtain, or maybe she’s seeking a father figure, since Rupert’s about twice her age. Can’t be the money, since both she and Robert have plenty. I’m inclined to think it was a publicity stunt, designed to get people talking, in the lead-up to the release of the final installment of the “Twilight” series. Anyone who would suffer righteous indignation at the idea of Kristen’s “affair” with a married man probably won’t be in line for a theater ticket, anyway.

I’ve never given much of a hoot what celebs do, but I do like to make fun of their antics. My ultra-conservative aunt (I’ll leave it up to you to guess which one, since ALL my aunts are ultra-conservative) would probably say I’m “jealous” of them because they’re rich. Sure, I’d take their money, but I wouldn’t want their sordid lives.

In the checkout line at Reasor’s, I’ve watched a few cashiers try to keep straight faces as I ridicule the “supermarket tabloids” – often with colorful language. Sometime during the past year or so, Reasor’s installed those little plastic flaps over some of its magazine racks, presumably to encourage people to buy before they spy. My husband suspects the covers were hidden specifically to keep me from scoffing at them, but I’m not so easily dissuaded. Lifting a half-ounce flap to see the offending headlines is certainly less trouble than putting down the toilet seat my husband perpetually leaves up. And even if I were tempted to buy a tabloid, I would never do so, for fear that a respectable person – or even a dis-respectable one – might see me do it.

A few minutes in line is all I need to discern the entire contents, anyway. You can always count on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to make a few of the covers, along with Lindsay Lohan, though lately these media magnets have been supplanted by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Not that it matters, but can you blame Katie for dumping Tom? According to what I’ve seen on the covers of some of these tabloids, he’s a couple of bricks shy of a load. In fact, on a website I looked at earlier for phrases to describe a “crazy person” – which included old standbys like “nuttier than a fruitcake” and “mad as a hatter” – the last one on the list was “converted to Scientology.”

We in the Press newsroom know all about folks who don’t play with full decks. Just Wednesday, our copy editor, Kolby Paxton, took a phone call from a woman who insisted there were “people” in her basement. We hear from her every so often, and normally, the “people” are in the attic (the same place where she keeps her toys). In case you suspect she actually might have squatters, let me put your mind at ease: The sheriff himself has checked it out, but he – like most of the rest of us – isn’t gifted with the ability to see phantoms.

Anyway, got news, folks: The stuff you see in the tabloids is NOT news. Not by definition, anyway. It’s more like gossip, which doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be interested in it – even though you probably shouldn’t be.

Will the knowledge that Jessica Simpson has cottage-cheese thighs realign the planets? Will the latest antics of the Kardashians bring on the apocalypse? Will the particulars of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” solve the world hunger crisis? Will another screed about Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic or homophobic rants shame the rest of us into tolerance?

In a word, no. But just as we must crane our necks while driving past a horrific accident in hopes of a glimpse of gore, we must also revel in the report that Tiger Woods’ wife went after him with a 9-iron. And the tabs and mags know what makes us tick. This is why on the cover of every Cosmo we can find the word “sex,” or some variant thereof, printed three times. It’s a formula that works.

As for publications like the Press, we have a different formula. Tahlequah doesn’t have too many celebrities, but we have lots of criminals – and we’re willing and able to tell you about them. THAT, my friends, is news around these parts. Just ask anyone at the courthouse, and they’ll tell you the first things most folks read is the Daily Log. They want to know who had the misfortunate to get busted or sued.

And if that doesn’t grab your interest, there’s always the obituaries.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.