Thursday, October 05, 2006

people like us

I’m cramming.

I’m taking a crash course in celebrities: Fame 101. Or maybe, Fame 101N – Celebrityology for non-majors. Or how about, Fame 101NR – Celebrity studies for slightly retarded non-majors?

That’d be it. I’m really far behind. Sure, I know who Oprah is. And Brittany. And even Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie (who are famous in the tradition of Zsa-Zsa Gabor and Angelyne). But there are newer models with harder-to-remember names and look-alike faces: Jessica Simpson. Keira Knightley. Lindsay Lohan. Kate Bosworth. Nick Lachey. I realize Nick Lachey is a man, but I still find him cryptic and indistinguishable from the others.

I don’t see gender.

No. I’m just kidding. I know the difference between men and women. Men – at least the men in People and Us – don’t wear Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin shoes. See? I’m getting it.

What happened is this: Marcia left me with a whole shopping bag full of slightly outdated People and Us Magazines. To get up to speed. To recognize celebrities when I see them in the elevator or sit next to them on a plane. I’m about halfway through the stack. And I’d say I was a quick study, except I’m not. I'm finding it mighty slow going.

All I can figure out is that in certain respects, celebrities are just like you and me. They sneeze (but they don’t pick their noses). They eat breakfast (but not Bran Buds). They walk their doggies and pick up dog shit (the shit issued from their own dogs, that is, not any old dog shit). They have babies, although as Stephen Colbert has noted, they experience something called Baby Fever, a disease not shared with us civilians.

But they’re also NOT like you and me. The paparazzi catch them taking much nicer vacations – no 36 hours in College Station for them. They are seen in a higher caliber of restaurant, establishments that earn Zagat’s scores of 31, but they never eat. They bring forks halfway to their mouths and mysteriously stop as the cameras click away. They do canoodle, perhaps in lieu of eating; I don’t think civilians are ever referred to as “canoodling” either. Only celebs can canoodle. It’s unseemly for the rest of us to canoodle. PDA. Eeeewwww.

Celebs are forever frolicking on Malibu beach, where it's somehow never as foggy as it is elsewhere on the coast. They’re never seen on Redondo Beach or El Segundo Beach or, god forbid, Dockweiler Beach (a exceedingly loud strip of beach abutting the ends of the runways at LAX. If you're cavorting on Dockweiler Beach, you’re possibly closer to the passenger in Seat 64H of that 747 than the pilot is).

Nor do you see them sitting at their computers, cruising the Web with the rest of the hoi polloi. Their publicists do that for them. (With the notable exception of Stephen Colbert, of course. Our favorite Mr. Colbert is a Man of the People, doing vanity searches and locating esoteric porn from which he shields our most precious resource, The Children.)

Those are the real celebrities: the actors and actresses, the rock stars and supermodels. Then there are the faux celebrities, the American Idol contestants and Survivor lumpenproletariat lottery-winners. You can tell the difference in a heartbeat. Just look at the eyebrows of real celebs – perfect every time. No caterpillars. No Sharpie lines. Think about the eyebrows of the stars. Can you even picture them? No you can’t. The reason why is that they’re perfect.

I see that People and Us give a minimum of column inches over to the faux celebrities. They know no-one really wants to see them, except perhaps to chuckle over a particularly egregious fashion violation or some maneuver that reveals them as pretenders to the throne of celebrity.

In this stack of magazines, even the post-Di era royals get more coverage than the American Idols and Idolettes. They’re just not worthy.

But celebrity journalism isn’t just all about monitoring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for signs of offspring (reporting the ubiquitous “baby bump”); that would be shallow. Celebrity journalism is responsible. These weekly glossies want to show you (lest you be jealous) that there’s a decided downside to fame. The stars have woes unknown to us, incomprehensible to us mortals. Remote and more painful than we can imagine.

Nope. You can’t even enjoy a little schadenfreude over their woes. It’s simply inappropriate to gloat over pain of that magnitude.

Look here. An actual headline out of People, dated July 31, 2006 (long after celebrity shoplifter -- she of the enormous cargo purses -- Winona has been eclipsed by the cute-as-a-button Olsens, Ashley and Mary-Kate). The headline leaves you dizzy with concern for our celebs:

MY BAG IS BIGGER THAN ME! Has a combination of slimmer stars and larger purses led to a spike in satchel-to-celeb ratios?

Oh, wait!

That is me. Celebrities are just like us. I’ve told you about my briefcase. Maybe I can relate to the problems of the stars.

How about:

DRESSING FOR A SHORTER GUY. The secret: shoes, shoes, shoes.

Got that one. Shoes, shoes, shoes. Wear shoes. A shorter guy will be that much closer to your feet. He’ll be able to see that you need a pedicure. He’ll notice all that dirt you’ve picked up from going barefoot in the house. By all means, WEAR SHOES.

Well, that’s some advice we can all live by. Shoes can create the illusion that you’re much shorter or much taller, whichever suits the circumstances. I put on shoes every time – once a week or so – that I leave the house. They help me reach my full potential. In my shoes, I’m as tall as my shorter date. Or as short as Billy Barty. Shoes, shoes, shoes. Must remember to wear shoes. Put it on the list!

Shoot. It's gotta be the shoes. In another People glamour shot, Rod Stewart’s black-and-white patent leather shoes do make him look like a different man, a man teleported straight from the 1970s. And look at that big, strapping, supermodel he’s landed! Shoes do make a huge, huge difference.

Shoes and bags. Shoes and bags. I’m going to write it on my hand so I don’t forget. Shoes and bags.

An important part of cramming is writing the answer on your hand. Battle of Hastings. Shoes and Bags. Mitochondria. And knowing which answer is which.

For celebrityology, it's shoes and bags, shoes and bags, shoes and bags.

I’m halfway through the stack of magazines, and I’ve learned a lot already. I think I’m going to pass Fame 101NR – Celebrity Studies for slightly retarded non-majors. Maybe I'll even get a B. Then I’ll be eligible for Fame 102NR – Introductory Camouflage for Celebrities: floppy hats and sunglasses. And Fame 103NR (summer school) – Small Dogs: how to dress them and use them as cute furry props. Fame 201 delves into the subtleties of product placement. Did you see that cup of Starbucks on the Colbert Report? Shameless! uh -- I mean, Brilliant! See: I'm not ready for Fame 201 yet. I'll stick with the introductory series for now.

So I’m ready for the final, Ms. Wintour. But not for my close-up. Just gotta do something about these eyebrows. And put on some shoes.


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7:07 AM  

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