Secrets and lies - why we love celebrity gossip

We love reading about celebrities such as Coleen Rooney
We love reading about celebrities such as Coleen Rooney

Why do I fall for it every time? You’d think by now I’d have learned, but no, there I was again in the queue at the newsagents, magazines clasped in my hot, little hand.

I was gagging to get home to get out my Garibaldis and a cup of tea and ingest the latest celebrity gossip.

The headline on one magazine cover claimed; ‘Coleen - Forced to sleep on the sofa – husband kicks her out of bed!’ The front of my other magazine was emblazoned with the words; ‘Ruth’s Horror – the text that could end my marriage!’

Beneath each salacious statement were less than flattering photos of Coleen Nolan and Ruth Langsford. These particular women’s magazines always capture their cover girls from their least attractive angle. The celebs usually look depressed, angry or slightly constipated, sometimes all three! You can see every wrinkle, bag and line of the featured celebrity’s face.

When I got home and read the stories I found that yet again, the magazines had led me up the garden path! Regarding Coleen Nolan’s husband forcing her to sleep on the sofa as the headline inferred, it was simply a case of Coleen choosing to sleep on the sofa occasionally of her own accord when her husband snores loudly. And as for Ruth Langsford’s horror and the text that could end her marriage, the real story was Ruth had commented that if husband Eamon Holmes ever sent a flirty text to someone else she would probably leave him. Neither of these stories were from interviews, they were simply taken from comments both women had made during conversations on the Loose Women TV programme.

People love a bit of gossip, but there’s something about celebrity gossip that engrosses us, particularly if it involves scandal, but that’s nothing new. As far back as 1500 BC clay tablets revealed a Mesopotamian mayor’s affair with a married woman.

Celebrity fascination was rife in the 1800s which saw the beginning of Lisztmania. Dashing Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, would whip women into a frenzy at his concerts with his violent piano playing where he would break strings and sometimes entire pianos! The women would scream and faint in ecstasy. His fans would follow him down the street and pick up his cigarette stubs or cut or pull out locks of his hair. He was the Justin Bieber of his time.

Why are we so enthralled by celebrities’ antics? Celebs can fill a dull hole in our own lives. In many ways celebrity worship has taken the place of organised religion. We lap up tales of the rich and famous and their naughty shenanigans, read of their court injunctions to stop us hearing about their dirty deeds and marvel at how many get away with all sorts. It’s all so far removed from our own existences. Celebrities live in wonderful houses, travel the world and have dangerous liaisons. Gossiping about stars allows us to live vicariously and brings some excitement into our lives.

Celebrity has enthralled us for aeons. People have long looked to monarchs for social and even fashion cues. For instance, women didn’t wear a white wedding dress until Queen Victoria wore one for her wedding in 1840, only then did it catch on as women followed suit. Not much has changed, Kate Middleton’s wedding gown saw a spate of copycat dresses and the reintroduction (thank heavens!) of sleeves, not to mention a resurgence of lace in bridal gowns. We take more notice of the behaviours of famous people and frequently copy their traits and styles hoping that it will make us like them. That is why many companies sponsor stars to use their products because when a celeb endorses a product it makes it more desirable to many of us.

We can feel like we know celebrities because their faces are frequently in our homes via television. Also, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter where celebs will share their news and personal details with fans, can reinforce fans imagined intimacy with the stars, making it feel like a genuine relationship. Being able to talk about celebs helps us feel like we belong, it can act as an ice-breaker and make us feel at one by sharing our views and opinions about celebrities. It’s because of our love for celebrity tittle tattle that some magazines manipulate us with misleading headlines, to make us hand over our money in the hope of finding out juicier details inside their periodicals, I for one must stop falling for it!