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Has celebrity gossip jumped the shark?

Has celebrity gossip jumped the shark? (photo)

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The tragic death of Amy Winehouse coming fast upon the sudden disintegration of the News of the World begs the question: Has celebrity gossip jumped the shark? The brief life of Amy Winehouse was — and this is why I bring this up — near the end, a moveable feast for the tabloids. The fact that her private demons were aired in public for all the world to gawk at probably didn’t help her addiction. And when she died, like she lived, the tabloids were there to chronicle the final seedy detail: the removal of the body bag. Charmed, I’m sure.

There is something vaguely seedy about the whole enterprise of celebrity gossip, of paparazzi and of private investigators and their intrusive camera lenses. Do the rich have better sex than war do? And yet there is such a felt need for its welcome distraction, of knowing what and who the stars — “reality” and movie varieties — do behind closed doors, between the high thread count sheets.

And what of us, its consumers – aren’t we all somewhat addicted to this sordid thing? TMZ, Gawker, PerezHilton — before he went “nice” — take your pick. A little bit of gossip is not unlike a sorbet, a light palette cleanser to one’s daily information diet. It has little nutritive value, but in small amounts is quite harmless, even psychologically refreshing. After following the debt crisis and our foreign wars to exhaustion, something light and sweet is necessary for continued sanity. There’s nothing wrong with that. Who among us isn’t fascinated by the creepy behind-the-scenes goings on at the Playboy mansion? Just so long as we get back, at some point, to the important stuff, like paying our country’s bills.

The sordid truth however is that gossip in our society is a lot more than a palette cleanser. It is rapidly becoming the whole damn meal. And it is a meal wholly lacking intellectual vitamins and minerals. It is without moderation a meal that leads to a morbid obesity. Do we really need, for example, to see pictures of Michael Jackson’s corpse? Los Angeles Deputy Coroner Ed Winter’s office was actually offered $2 million for a peek. That is, ironically, one million dollars more than Jackson’s own offer to purchase the elephant man’s remains. Man in the mirror, indeed.

As media organizations cut back on foreign bureaus at a time when international news is most important – think: Arab Spring – celebrity gossip is a $3 billion a year industry and rising. Further, what can only be construed as the greasy methods are being used to get the scoops that fuel the industry. That grease is at present all over Piers Morgan.

Those greasy methodologies on parade at the News of the World parliamentary inquiry recently are not just isolated incidents from across the pond. “In the past few years, a federal Department of Justice team in Los Angeles has conducted a wide-ranging investigation into illegal leaks of celebrity health records and other confidential files, according to officials involved,” wrote Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times in May. And ABC recently admitted to paying more than $200,000 to the family of murder suspect Casey Anthony for home videos and pictures, a source of shame for many in the news division. The felt need for gossip is a powerful financial incentive; the actual association with celebrity gossip is expensive to one’s integrity.

A greasy feast, gossip. It just may or may not have reached a cultural saturation point, may or may not have jumped the shark. But as they say about Lay’s greasy potato chips: no one can eat just one.

What are your own thoughts on celebrity gossip? Do you still love a juicy story? Let us know below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.