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The "news" of the pandemic

I recently came across an entertainment article that listed all the celebrity couples who had broken up during the COVID pandemic.  And it made me realize two things.

First, entertainment reporting isn’t what it used to be.  Over the last two decades, Hollywood reporting has gone from what shows are in production and hints about upcoming episodes to someone’s recent haircut or a lost puppy.

Social media meant the public didn’t have to wait for the stars’ manager or representatives to make a statement.  It came straight from the horse’s mouth.  Followed by a next-day apology for said statement.

And while we once loved to check out the latest styles and hairdos on the red carpet, it seemed that Britney Spears’ 1999 salon shave-down in front of paparazzi was just the beginning of a new trend.  Suddenly, getting bangs made headlines.

Then with everything shut down during the pandemic and Hollywood relegated to their lonely mansions, the stars found more reasons to make entertainment “news” for the most arbitrary of reasons.  Some coloured their hair without professional assistance.  (Say it isn’t so!)  Some danced in a field at a farm. (Thank you Jennifer Garner. You are so, so inspiring.)

But that was all we had.  There was no real Hollywood news.  No shows in production except for a handful of daytime and latenight programs being shot like an independent college film.  So entertainment reporting has to get creative and more flexible in what made it covered.

Obviously, for many of us this has made for some very dull waits in the grocery store checkout.  It’s also led to the cancellation of NBC’s E! News after 29 years on the air, along with a recently-debuted morning celebrity news show and an afternoon celebrity interview series.

So what is considered “news” is now up for grabs.  The second thing I realized looking at that pandemic break-up list is:  I don’t know who most of these people are.

Celebrities used to be those we saw on television or in the movies.  Then came those who got 15 minutes of fame for something.  That led to reality television which made stars out of people for dropping their drawers on a deserted island.

The popularity of internet videos made it even easier to become famous with just a sex tape or an extraordinarily round butt.  The monetization of YouTube meant even more people were trying to get noticed.  Then add Snapchat, Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter and the hundreds of social media and online options that can transition a virtual unknown to a “star” … well, the number of so-called “famous” faces is mind-boggling.

And right now, they’re focused on attacking each other for supporting – or not supporting – the right political party, social conscience movement, protestors, or bean company.  (Sorry Goya.)

2020’s lack of formal media production and the increase in literally home-grown stars has made everyone and anyone “famous” to some extent. So yay for online equality!  But sometimes I wish they’d just post a picture of their new haircut and be done with it.