Why Do We Love Reality TV Stars? They're Accessible.
Yesterday, I was contacted by CNN writer Stephanie Goldberg to give my opinion about Teen Mom. My recent post about the show had led the behemoth media outlet to my tiny doorstep in rural Iowa. So I gave my interview and suggested that Goldberg contact Jenna Hatfield here at BlogHer who wrote MTV's Teen Mom Falls Short, Bloggers Step Up. The result of all this chatter? See for yourself in CNN's article The 'Teen Mom' phenomenon (where I'm referenced as Bondie. I would have preferred James Bondie, but whatevs.)
One of the things I've noticed about Teen Mom is that Perez Hilton totally hates it. He has written a few posts showing the cover stories about the Teen Mom girls and is totally rude about them. One post read: "Seriously -- WHO CARES?" He ended the post with "Are U interested?" One could make the argument that Perez Hilton has no interest in teenage girl-moms because he is a grown-up gay man. But since he writes about everything-pop-culture, why has he been so snarky about Teen Mom? Well, that's another post.
To answer his question about the covers: Yes, we are interested. Very interested. The proof is in the skyrocketing sales of these magazines and the obvious war between the tabloids to get the next interview. Magazines don't put people on covers unless those covers will SELL. So what is it about reality stars like the Teen Mom girls who make us want to read more? My theory? Accessibility.
Let's think about the people who have shown up on the covers of magazines for the last year or so. Jon and Kate, Heidi and Spencer, all 19 Duggers, Bristol (sigh) Palin, any Real Housewife, the cast of Jersey Shore, Jake and Vienna (and anyone else remotely related to The Bachelor/The Bachelorette or the new and oh-so-bizarre Bachelor Pad), and the entire family of Kardashians/Jenners.
And then we have "stars" from American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, America's Got Talent, and all of the other reality show crazes that light up DVR lists all across America. What ties all of these people together is that their brands are themselves. They want to talk, and they want you to listen. Presto magic! Magazine sales! You don't have to read about a "source" who said Britney Spears is bad to her babies. You can hear directly from Kim Kardashian about what she's up to. And she is up to a LOT.
When I was younger (cough), we didn't have the plethora of "tabloid" magazines that we have today. I remember bonafide Movie Stars being on the covers of magazines. Now, the trend has gone Reality. I believe this has to do with the fact that reality stars will actually talk to the magazines. The trend with Hollywood heavy-hitters is to "maintain privacy." Even though the general public puts food on their tables, the elite stars have no interest in talking to US Weekly or Star magazine about their personal lives. But the reality stars? All systems GO!
So the question becomes: Are the "big" movie stars making a mistake by being so closed off? Sure, some of them have Twitter accounts. Here and there, you can find a really good interview. But the sound bytes usually only appear when they are promoting a movie, book, or cause. They block paparazzi photos with bags or arms. They show up on the red carpet in designer clothes (or not -- note that Brad and Angelina almost never attend award shows anymore.) They "rise above" the tabloid magazines. They only talk to Oprah.
So this makes me wonder about the "big" celebrities of our time. I ask Perez Hilton and anyone else: Who cares about THEM? They won't give Jane Doe Jones the time of day! But Bethenny Frankel? She will tell me EVERYTHING. She will even pee in front of me -- and anyone else who watched her wedding on "Bethenny Getting Married?" And that is why I love her and will buy any magazine that is lucky enough to nab her for a cover. Sure, she has made some missteps in her life and on her shows, but that's what makes her real. And personally, I find her far more inspiring than Cameron Diaz or Leonardo DiCaprio or any other A-lister who avoids the public like the plague.
I can't even remember the last time a real Movie Star gave a solid interview that seemed remotely realistic. Yes, Sandra Bullock recently talked to People Magazine, but her cover story was properly "guarded." I love Sandra and all, but I would have rather heard her admit that her ex-husband was a royal douchebag. Bethenny totally would have said it.
You tell me. Who is more interesting to you these days? Major stars or reality stars? And why?
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