A celebrity obsession

“Britney Spears booked on traffic charges” was one headline under the “popular news” section of the CNN Web site last week.

Lately, news sources have been focusing on the once-beloved Britney, whether it’s about her involvement in a fender bender — that happened over two months ago — or her custody battle with ex-husband and Fresno native “K-Fed.”

“Fire crotch” Lindsay Lohan seems to appear on every other channel on cable television because of that whole rehab ordeal.

Does society really care about such trivial issues? Do we think that these tabloid-worthy stories should be considered news?

So what if Britney can’t keep her two boys? I don’t think she’s exactly the sane one of the two — which is quite pathetic when being compared to the likes of Mr. Wannabe Rap Superstar. And who cares if Lindsay is sniffing coke or getting yet another DUI? That stuff happens to other people all the time.

Well, we do care. A lot. But only if it’s about some celebrity.

If we didn’t care, tabloids would be out of business and newspapers would lose readership — more so than what’s already been lost because newspapers are slowly dying off. But that’s a whole other story.

The news doesn’t cover just anyone doing drugs, only those that will reel in the ratings and increase readership.

You have to admit, there would be a lot less appeal in a story with a headline “Regular man off the street shoots up heroine.”

So what? He’s a nobody.

No matter how much people may deny it, there’s something interesting about scrutinizing others and how they live their lives. Reality television, gossip magazines, and any other medium dealing with that kind of tittle-tattle seems to have the “it” factor.

But exactly what that “it” factor is, I don’t know.

Maybe it’s the idea that society puts these celebrities like Britney — we don’t even have to mention her last name to know who she is — on a pedestal. So when they fail, we can’t help but watch them spiral down into nothingness.

And in Britney’s case, it’s even more entertaining to see her attempt to make a comeback — only to fail again.

Case in point: her VMA performance.

Now I’m not going to deny the fact that I sometimes find myself glued in front of the television watching “The Soup” and its many bashings of celebrities and their fashion faux pas and recent legal battles. At times like that, I tend to disregard that little voice in my head screaming at me that I’m just wasting my time when I could be engaging in more stimulating behavior.

And yet I continue to watch, hoping that another stupid commercial doesn’t interrupt the latest about Paris Hilton’s humanitarian efforts.

Or, maybe it’s just because that kind of stuff is just entertaining. Who doesn’t find it painstakingly funny when a celebrity’s mug shot hits the newsstands because of a 3 a.m. DUI bust?

I’ll admit that I skim through a magazine or two while waiting in line at the grocery store. Sometimes I’ll buy one, but only to get me through my dull classes the next day. Does anyone else laugh hysterically when there’s an 8-page spread on how fat some celebrities have gotten? I sure do. Yeah, I know, it’s a cheap thrill. But it’s amusing.

And that’s exactly what those newspapers and magazines have realized. Celebrity news sells. Gossip sells. And we are the ones buying into it all.

Now am I saying that we should stop focusing on these aforementioned issues? No — I’ve been reeled into reading about it.

All I’m saying is that no matter how much we want, and sometimes try, to forget about the problems and odd predicaments of the über-rich, we can’t help but watch.

I admit it. So can you.

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