Part 1: Celebrity Shamanism and Gossip Mythology: What is this really about?
The reason that tabloid narratives are so powerful is that they retain the absurdity of life and the irrationality of human behavior. Those troubling existential bits that are scrubbed from commercially sponsored storytelling. It's not just the cheap tawdriness and profane expletives that make it impossible for mainstream media to compete, the subtleties, contradictions and complexity of irreconcilables are closer to classic mythology and Shakespeare than television drama. What is frightening and painfully missing is the lack of humanitarian values and elevated ideals. It is a model of consumption that consumes and empties itself.
On a personal level, the accounts and pictorials of these displayed lives become mirrors with which many judge and evaluate their own bodies, relationships and lives. Instead of connecting us outward and binding us together into larger social structures, the values promoted in the living mythology of celebrity culture plunges individuals inward toward isolation, narcissistic reflection and obsession with personal need fulfillment.
The shamanistic stories of gossip mythology are messages sent back from the "dream world" about the "fantasy lives" of celebrities. They inspire and taunt us with the possibility of becoming an inhabitant of that just out-of-reach "other world".
Nobody reads the fine print and there is always a catch. To be granted access, you must fulfill a quest and find a powerful treasure. The ugly truth however, is that the quest is never ending and just like magic, more and more things appear on the list. Sneakers, a new phone, Rolex watches, a new phone, a Porsche, a new phone, a pair of Manolo blahniks, a bigger house, a Chanel handbag, Kabbalah classes, new tits, fake hair, a new husband, another mistress and an African baby... For some reason the crossover just never "takes place" and we never wake up in that dream world. We get the magazines and we read the websites and we buy the right things but the only that changes is to the credit card balance and the time on the clock.
It's fascinating to compare the "promise of eternal life" (heaven in exchange for a moral obedience in life) and the promises of secular consumerism... it's the same game. The "life of your dreams" (dream home, dream jobs, dream vacations) in exchange for your life's blood, sweat, and tears (and the right combination of and endless list of magical baubles and cheap shiny crap.)