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Mon March 8, 2004
Sleaze in the Breeze
Maybe it was being on vacation, or maybe it was just being in Florida, but David is recovering from pop-culture overload.
By David Hill
Wilmington NC – [Click the LISTEN button to hear David's commentary.]
We just got back from taking the children to visit their great-grandmother in Boca Raton. For five days we played in the sun, except that for two days there wasn?t any sun and ?playing? involved a lot of cooking and diaper changing. But it was still a vacation. The kids splashed in the pool. We visited Butterfly World, where a spotted swallowtail thrilled our children by lighting right on their mom?s bottom (I?ll give you a moment to make a joke ? take your time.). We saw Peter Pan, but I had problems with the main character. I was like, grow up!
On vacation we indulge a little. We ate out. For lunch! We had happy hour. Okay, hours. And we read trashy magazines. For five days we flung aside The New England Journal of Medicine in favor of Us, People, even The National Enquirer. What? Just because I fancy myself a member of the Eastern Establishment intellectual elite can I not have an inquiring mind? I want to know!
Or do I? Pop culture at the concentrations found in these magazines is like Halloween candy. At first you just want to cram in as much as you can, but if you keep going you start to feel nauseous. But maybe just one more jujube?
There?s stuff I know I shouldn?t care about, but I can?t help myself. How is Paris Hilton?s Beverly Hills mansion decorated? Why is Jennifer Aniston suddenly showing more cleavage? Has Nicole Kidman had so much botox her eyebrows won?t move? I don?t want to admit I care, but, well, has she? I mean Victoria?s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour has cellulite, and there?s pictures! I know I should look away, but?.
Of course with the wheat comes chaff. Some of the filler is so trivial it makes me relieved I?m not a celebrity. For Paris Hilton?s twenty-third birthday she ? wait for it ? went shopping. You don?t say! Selma Blair and husband Ahmet Zappa checked out puppies at a pet adoption center in Santa Monica ? but they didn?t get one. Selma already has a dog, a Jack Russell mix with one eye. Ben Affleck was seen at an LA Lakers game ? with his mom! I paid two ninety-nine for this? Where?s that picture of Stephanie Seymour?s cellulite?
To say that celebrity is a product of mass media is like, duh! But the impact on our self-esteem can be profound. Before celebrity you could only compare yourself to people you actually knew. You might not be the strongest warrior or the best cook in your village, but you had only your immediate neighbors to compete with, and chances were there was something you did better than everyone else. Today?s media bring the most beautiful, talented, or just outrageous people in the world right into your home. Are you a pretty good hostess? Martha Stewart?s better. Think you?re hot? You?re no Brad Pitt. Proud of your Porche? Jerry Seinfeld has a garage full of them. People and Access Hollywood make us feel like we know these folks, even though if most of us ever saw them in the street we?d be grabbing our cameras and calling mom on the cell phone.
So we get mixed messages. The stars are just like you and me. There?s a picture of Kirsten Dunst buying soup! Hey, I eat soup! There?s a picture of Mary-Kate Olsen drinking a frappucino! On the other hand, they?re not like you and me. Mary-Kate just bought a Gulfstream jet. Hey, I can buy a frappuccino. I can also buy the candles favored by Goldie Hawn (White Barn, available at Bath and Body Works for fifteen dollars). But what if Goldie finds out I?m copying her? And if I stop eating fudge-dipped Oreos like America?s Next Top Model Yoanna House, will I also lose sixty pounds and become gorgeous? I think the safer route to fame for me is to follow in the footsteps of American Idol?s Will Hung, famous for his awful voice and pudgy looks. And to kick off my campaign, I?m going to grab a frappuccino and browse the dog shelter. Oh, but not now. Access Hollywood is coming on.
Dr. David Hill is a pediatrician and internist who lives in Wilmington.