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Why are we addicted to celebrity magazines?

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Many of us are consumed by celebrity magazines, and there are new ones springing up every day. The market for celebrity gossip shows no signs of slowing down, and people aren't ashamed of reading them (if they ever were). We just want more! What is it that makes us so interested in Britney, Brangelina, TomKat and all their band of showbiz friends?
Many of us are consumed by celebrity magazines, and there are new ones springing up every day. The market for celebrity gossip shows no signs of slowing down, and people aren't ashamed of reading them (if they ever were). We just want more! What is it that makes us so interested in Britney, Brangelina, TomKat and all their band of showbiz friends?
We can dream!
A couple of pounds is enough to buy us a glossy magazine and a window into the celebrity lives that we've always dreamt about. We see the stars living their lives in a perfect world where the champagne flows freely, everyone smiles constantly, has perfect teeth and hair and not a financial care in the world; where the word boring is suppressed from the dictionary and the love stories are passionate. Celeb lives seem like one long party, and staring into the celebrity fishbowl helps us escape from reality and forget our grouchy boss, Tube delays and everyday worries...to the point where you risk living through other people's lives and forgetting about your own.
Role models?
Celebrities are always on to the latest trend, never make a faux pas and become fashion and lifestyle icons (thanks to their PR and image consultants, in a lot of cases). When Sienna Miller's snapped with a glam new bag, we want one. When Kate Moss is pictured sunbathing topless in Lapland, we start checking whether Easyjet fly there. If Paris Hilton adopts a new pet, it makes us want an exotic furry friend too. If you're not up with the latest gossip, you feel out of touch among your friends. But we don't all have money to spend like water and designers queueing up to give us freebies. Trying to emulate them can soon lead to bankruptcy! The A-list have a headstart: personal trainers, hairdressers, make-up artists, stylists and cosmetic surgeons...so if your skin isn't that perfect or you can't miraculously shift half a stone in 3 days, it doesn't make you a lesser human being!
Reassurance
But celebrity magazines don't just show us the rosy, shiny side. They also delve into the stars' problems, spectular weight gain or loss, break-ups, trips to rehab, bereavements and all the rest. And admit it: we love specials with unflattering pics and sordid stories on the cover. They make us feel better about ourselves: celeb lives aren't as rosy as they seem, which makes us happy to be us in our comfy old trainers rather than a neurotic star tottering on her glittery heels! They also remind us that at the end of the day, megastars are just human beings like us, with cellulite, relationship problems and bad hair days. Though it’s never healthy to be glad about others' unhappiness: you can turn critical and lack empathy. How would you feel if your boyfriend ran off with your best friend and you've been consoling yourself with chocolate to get through the day?!
Talking points
Talking celebrity gossip doesn't cause a lot of argument. You're not risking World War Three talking about Britney’s meltdown, Madonna's break-up or Angelina's latest addition to her rainbow family. Celebville is an easy topic of conversation.
It's only human
At school, you wanted to know who said what about whom. At the office, you want to know who’s sleeping with whom and why Shelly's so upset. It's the same with the celebrity world. We're naturally curious and we like knowing what’s happening to our neighbours. It’s a safe bet that if a magazine was to publish gossip about our neighbourhood we’d buy it! We don't know celebrities personally so we don’t feel guilty about harmless gossip. It never hurt anyone, right? But the craze for celebrity gossip is arguably making us more and more curious and pushing back the boundaries of public and private lives (famous or otherwise).
Guilty pleasure
Celebrity magazines are cheap, quick, easy and relaxing to read. You can pick them up and have a flick through when you want something to occupy yourself with that doesn't require a great deal of attention, and still keep an eye on what’s happening around you as well as what's happening to Posh. They take our minds off our worries and don't remind us of war, misery and the ever-rising cost of living - miseries that we want to forget sometimes. But enjoy with care: celeb magazines aren't the only reading material out there and they don't reflect real life. Faced with the thirst for celebrity content, many publishers are giving over more and more of their column inches to celebrity lives and ignoring the real subjects that matter. Overdosing on gossip isn't a good idea!
Published by Sarah Horrocks
16 Jul 2008
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