Last year for Christmas, there were only two things I wanted: Reese Witherspoon to be happy and Jennifer Aniston to find a significant other. I know, it’s a little weird to ask for the happiness of some of my favorite celebrities as a gift, but when you grow up reading People religiously what’s a girl to do on such a holy holiday? I’m happy to say my Christmas wish did come true, albeit a little late: Reese married entertainment manager Jim Toth this March and Jennifer finally has a boyfriend! She’s been dating the very rebellious-looking writer-actor Justin Theroux since May.
But looking back on my Christmas wishes, it got me thinking: Why did I wish for the happiness of people I don’t even know? Wouldn’t it have been more practical to wish for the happiness of, say, my sister as she finishes her senior year in college? Or widespread peace in the Middle East? Why did I want to see Jennifer Aniston happy?
This got me thinking about the role celebrities play in my world. To me, these aren’t just average people living their lives. These are people playing out a story for me — the highs and lows of their lives are chronicled in every magazine I read and in every re-tweet I post. They become the people I root for (Demi Lovato’s struggle with bipolar disorder) and the villains I despise (ugh, Charlie Sheen). When I first heard that Kim Kardashian was getting married, I cheered just as loudly as if I found out my cousin was going to walk down the aisle. When I learned that Jesse James cheated on sweet Sandra Bullock with that tattooed bimbo, I wanted to eat an entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s for her.
Each celebrity offers a different genre of a story for me to follow: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are the action-adventure story with their jet-setting around the globe with an infinite pack of children. Taylor Swift is the girl in a romantic comedy who just needs to find a solid boyfriend who she won’t make me hate in her next hit song (I will always like her ex Jake Gyllenhaal no matter how hard she tries!). Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the power couple with a baby on the way who will probably rule the world.
Everyone loves to follow a good story. For some, the latest political scandals or high-profile murder trials are something they enjoy watching unfold in the media. For me, that’s just too stressful. Those stories end with life or death situations and entire nations are at stake. I need a story to follow in which nothing too detrimental can occur as an outcome, in which the worst thing that could happen is Justin Bieber cuts his hair a little too short for the fans’ approval. Maybe I should be following stories like the economic state of despair instead, but every week when I pick up People magazine, log on to PerezHilton.com, or check my Twitter feed, these are the stories that draw my attention. I’m a big fan of a happy ending, and all I want is for these stories to end in such a way. Rooting for the economy to take a turn for the better is a much more dangerous game than spending my time hoping Kate Gosselin finds a man to help her look after those eight adorable kids and put them all through college.
Furthermore, the media’s ability to cut the distance between celebrities and the general public has me relating to celebrities more than ever. Would I have known two years ago that, at this exact moment, Miley Cyrus was cooking a chow mein dinner with her “honey?” With the advent of Twitter and blogs like TMZ, I can follow most celebrities at any time of the day, any day of the week, giving me a more in-depth look at their lives.
These kinds of media outlets allow me to follow celebrities in the same social network as my actual friends. Why do I know Zac Efron’s relationship history just as well as my closest guy friend’s? Because the media makes me feel like I know him, and in turn I follow him just as closely as those I know in my life. The media today takes the actress or actor and turns his or her own personal life into a story for many throughout the country to watch and enjoy. And trust me, I’m right there in the front row.
You’re still probably thinking my Christmas wish was stupid and materialistic, and maybe I agree. But do I regret it? Nope. Because now, I don’t have to see a sad looking Jennifer Aniston on the cover of my magazine and another article explaining why she can’t find love. Reese and Jennifer are both happy, and that’s all a gossip girl can ask for.