Celeb-watching might be inescapable

When I was younger, the concept of hobbies was so simple: Sports activities, social functions and TV shows made the top of most people’s hobby lists. However, in this new age of TV channels devoted

When I was younger, the concept of hobbies was so simple: Sports activities, social functions and TV shows made the top of most people’s hobby lists.

However, in this new age of TV channels devoted to fame and celebrity lifestyles, a new hobby has emerged – celebrity watching.

The paparazzi have never been so hated by celebrities, but those of us sitting at home watching “Entertainment Tonight” are pretty appreciative of the photos depicting celebrities
at their best – or worst.

Whether the sight of an 18-bedroom mansion featured on “MTV Cribs” makes viewers drool with admiration or change the channel in disgust, the result is the same: There is an almost morbid fascination with celebrity lifestyles.

Celebrities are constantly doing interviews in which they rant and rave about how they can’t seem to get a moment of peace.
But maybe that’s because they are always being put in the spotlight, and yet they continue to go on TV, pose for magazines, and launch clothing lines.

In a world where celebrities make themselves so accessible, is it any wonder why fans want a closer look into their lives?

This recent demand for access to celebrities’ lives has sparked an entirely new approach to television.

These days, nearly every television network has shows featuring celebrities of all calibers.

Whatever the channel, celebrity-watchers of all kinds can find something they like. For those who need a quick and daily fix of Hollywood gossip, CBS and NBC both have programs that report all of the latest in celebrity news.

If a quick fix just isn’t enough, tune into E! or VH1. Both cable networks have recently added several reality shows to their programming, all of which chronicle the daily lives of celebrities, giving viewers a very intimate glimpse into the most private – and often mundane – aspects of a celebrity’s life.

While E! mainly features popular A-list celebrities in its programs, VH1’s “Celebreality” seems to be dedicated to those formerly famous, much like ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and FOX’s “Celebrity Duets.”

The reason why our favorite celebrities aren’t learning how to dance on national television is simple: they don’t have to.

A-list celebrities are A-list for a reason, and that’s why they are making blockbuster movies while the guy who played A.C. Slater is trying to sing on FOX.

TV networks have carved a new niche for themselves. Not only are they scoring high viewer ratings, but they are also bringing fame to those who have forgotten what being famous
feels like.

The networks need their ratings, and the ex- and quasi-celebrities need their fame.

Of course, the popularity of a celebrity is insignificant when it comes to the Internet. The A-listers may have more sites devoted to them, but even the most washed-up stars are still famous online.

Celebrity weddings, divorces, and baby announcements are among the juiciest and most sought-after Hollywood news, and the Internet is the quickest way to access all of this information, though it may not always be accurate.

Although celebrity-watching is always guarantees a good time, there other – and much more constructive – things to do.
People have abandoned their old habits of reading, walking, and socializing in order to devote more time to watching others live their lives.

Like most, I find it hard to resist tuning into “Newlyweds” re-runs to see just how perfect for each other Nick and Jessica really were. But when the same episode airs for the seventh time, it’s about time to change the channel – and not on the TV.
Go outside, get some fresh air and try not to think about which car Justin Timberlake is driving around at the moment.

So why is there such an intense obsession with celebrities?

Perhaps people just enjoy seeing the extravagance that comes with Hollywood success, or maybe it is simply a matter of availability.

At three o’clock in the afternoon, when the only shows on TV are “Access Hollywood,” a re-run of “My Own” and the newest episode of “The Girls Next Door,” what’s a person to do?

People demanded a window into celebrities’ lives, and the media certainly have delivered. Now, if you’ll excuse me, “The Fabulous Life of Celebrity Kids” is about to come on.

Shannon McDonald can be reached at shannon.mcdonald@temple.edu.

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