Michelle Obama is exposing Hillary Clinton's secret sex life and financial dealings, Bill Clinton plans to live in Arkansas "to study young interns," Prince Charles' wife Camilla has branded William and Kate "lousy parents," Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner is a dying recluse, Goldie Hawn "needs rehab to survive," and Angelina Jolie "lusts for lesbian love – and drugs!"
What do these lurid stories in this week's tabloids have in common? They cling to the barest gossamer thread of reality – a thread that grows more frayed with each week's reports.
"Backstabbing Obama destroy Hillary," screams the Trump-loving 'Globe' cover story, ignoring the small detail that the Clintons' finances have been dissected in numerous public investigations and public tax filings, and allegations of her sexual proclivities have been long ago and repeatedly aired in depth. There's little dirt that the Obamas could offer the Republicans – as if they'd want to – that hasn't already been revealed.
If Hillary wins the White House, husband Bill plans to live in a "Little Rock love shack" – actually, his Presidential Library – where he has transformed his apartment into "a Hugh Hefner-style playboy penthouse" where he aims to seduce women, claims former Republican political strategist Dick Morris in the 'National Enquirer.' Bill reportedly plans "to build a swimming pool on the roof of his library . . . to have naked pool parties the way JFK did at the White House." Seems like fair and balanced reporting to me, despite the complete absence of supporting facts.
Why are Prince William and wife Kate such bad parents, according to Camilla? Because Kate squatted down to talk to son George at his own level, rather than talking down to him to make him appreciate his inferior position. "Camilla knew that's a royal no-no," reports the 'Globe,' which apparently believes that Camilla adheres to Victorian parenting practices, and has no problem in endorsing them.
"Hugh Hefner's sad last days" trouble the 'Globe,' which claims the 90-year-old publisher is a frail 90 pounds and a "tragic recluse." Which simply means that he hasn't been photographed in public lately. Let's remember that the tabloids gave Nick Nolte four weeks to live – several months ago.
Perhaps this is a good time for a trip down memory lane, to the 'Globe' issue of May 2012 whose cover screamed: "Who'll Die Next?" and revealed the "stars' secret health shockers." Pictured on the cover, the stars whose days were numbered: Liza Minnelli, O.J. Simpson, Heather Locklear, Demi Moore, Mary Tyler Moore, and, yep – Nick Nolte. Four years later, all are still alive. In the interests of complete fairness, let me acknowledge that this 2012 'Globe' cover also included a photo of country singer George Jones, who did indeed die the following year . . . at the age of 81. Hardly a shocking or premature demise.
Why does Goldie Hawn "need rehab"? The 70-year-old actress was partying in England and on two separate evenings left a club "looking like a hungover train wreck." Except she didn't. The photos simply show that she was smiling and having fun. Maybe she was tipsy. Maybe she was drunk. Heck, she could have been sloshed. But two nights out partying with friends does not make one an alcoholic – unless the 'Globe' sets its crack team of medical reporters on you, enlisting a doctor "who hasn't treated the star" to diagnose her condition based on paparazzi photographs – which is the way I always prefer my own medical experts to prescribe treatment.
The 'Enquirer' cover's grammatically challenged headline yells that Angelina Jolie is "back on drugs! & back with gay ex!" But even the 'Enquirer' struggles to piece together this fantasy, admitting that supposed lesbian love Jenny Shimizu is "now married." In fact, the 'Enquirer' can't find even a hint of evidence of a continuing romance between Jolie and Shimizu since at least 2006. Nor do they have any evidence that she is taking drugs. And if you trouble to read to the story's penultimate paragraph, we learn that Jolie is not back on drugs nor back with her "gay ex," but those are merely the fears of unnamed friends. As the 'Enquirer' concludes, following Jolie's recent split from husband Brad Pitt, "friends hope it doesn't push her back to her wild-child ways – and Jenny!" In other words, the entire story and all its allegations are just wild fabrications, just another fantasy in the myriad of cruel distortions that are evidently the price of modern celebrity.
With equal decency and compassion, the 'National Examiner' brings us a "world exclusive special report" on "Hollywood's Fattest Stars!" When the tabloids aren't warning us that stars are "too thin" and risk death by dieting, they are fat-shaming others and actively promoting body dysmorphia. "New shocking photos" show every extra ounce on celebrities who I won't bother to name. Shameful. And we have the 'Enquirer' this week telling us that singer George Michael's weight has "exploded," Tim Robbins has "gone to pot – potbelly, that is," and that "stick-thin" Kendall Jenner is "too fat for the catwalk," while the 'Globe' informs us that former 'Cheers' actor George Wendt "needs beer belly surgery."
Fortunately we have 'Us' magazine's crack investigative team to tell us that Rachel McAdams wore it best, comedian Kevin Hart loves taco Tuesday nights, Laverne Cox carries Maybeline highlighter, Warm Vanilla Sugar fragrance, and cilantro jalapeño hummus in her Zac Posen tote – and bless her, is the first celebrity honest enough to admit carrying condoms in her purse – and that the stars are just like us: they eat pastries, run errands, and play golf.
I'm at a loss to understand the motivation behind the cover stories in 'Us' and 'People' magazines this week, however. 'Us' features the "Teen Mom Wedding" of Maci Bookout and Taylor McKinney, while 'People' features the marital and commercial bliss of Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of TV's 'Fixer Upper.' Are these people really celebrities whose lives we are supposed to aspire to? Celebrity used to mean the glamour of Marlene Dietrich, the hauteur of Bette Davis, the sensuality of Marilyn Monroe and the grand passion of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Today it's a "teen mom" (who is 25 years old, which last time I checked makes her an ex-teen mom) and a couple of home-improvement house-flippers? I can't wait for them all to get their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Onwards and downwards . . .