This weekend on Labor Day, instead of enjoying a little extra time with family and friends, relaxing by the pool or opening a dusty old tome, a not insignificant number of people decided to freak out about celebrities online. Oscar Isaac sensual kind Jessica Chastain‘s arm on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival! John Mulaney and Oliva Munn can have sex shortly after Mulaney filed for divorce! It’s all wrong! Or we all make the mistake of worrying in both ways! This is our world now, an antisocial and seriously self-serious vortex of gossip and talk, where we approve or reject writing on our computers about the imagined behavior of people pretending to live. Or react dismissively to the rejection, for that matter.
But who am I to judge? I also saw the Oscar Isaac arm stroking and thought, BIO IS BACK! After all, sensuality is sorely lacking in our sad new world, filled with superhero allegory and genderless faux-arthouse “investigations” of failing relationships (no insult, Scenes from a marriage, miniseries). A lot of online people are attracted to over-identifying with celebrities because real life is gloomy, and so many of the movies and TV shows on offer right now are even gloomier, offering us not flights of erotic taste, but rather dull people who disappoint other bad people.
But we are also ashamed of our over-identification with the beautiful celebs — so after worrying too much about their lives, we become self-righteous and protect the non-famous spouses we know nothing about but imagine are patient. What does Isaac’s poor wife think about his blatant theatrical children’s press event flirtations with Chastain ?! How could Mulaney sleep with a celebrity woman after his ex supported him through years of addiction ?! These are genuine exclamations I read in large numbers on the internet over the weekend. Why was I there and why would I not look away? People who do not log in probably say much more interesting things, laugh and have fun somewhere with cocktails?
If you go outside and exclude conspiracy theorists from your incident interactions, it turns out to be pretty true. Isn’t the friend who does not have a Twitter the friend whose unexpected call you are most likely to pick up? “Tell me anything, anything!” you plead with them. (I have no data or reports to back this up, but here on the internet, instinct and anecdote can scale.) Still, we will write about the beautiful people, and the famous and miserable, too.
It would be nice if we could instead write more rigorously about their work and more critically about the industries they work in – and whose platforms that encourage that level of discussion were more abundantly accessible and financially supported. But in our deeply imperfect digitized world, we have the compound subtleties of their personal lives to feed, and that has always been the subtext.
Several great stories from Vanity Fair
– Unhappy little trees: Bob Ross’ dark legacy
– The true story of a Hollywood partnership built and destroyed by money, sex and celebrity
– Ted Lasso‘s Roy Kent on why the show is not “hot and fuzzy”
– Caftans, Goyard and Elvis: Inside The white lotus‘s costumes
– The chair Is like an academic Game of Thrones
– The best movies and shows streamed on Netflix this month
– Rachael Leigh Cook on Reclaiming She’s all that
– See Kristen Stewart Channel Princess Di in Spencer‘s official trailer
– From the archive: Jeffrey Epstein and Hollywood’s ubiquitous publicist
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