If Schrodinger’s cat could read he’d feel right at home with this week’s tabloids.Quantum superposition and tabloid supposition seem interchangeable in the way that this week’s tabloid tales might be alive with truth or dead wrong, at one and the same time.
The long-lost Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 has been “Found In Cambodian Jungle!” screams the front page of the National Enquirer, which offers a satellite image of the plane’s wreckage. At the same time, the blurry and indistinct photo appears to show some sort of unidentified objects amid trees, which could equally be the remnants of abandoned housing, or the wreckage of any number of drug-runners’ planes that may have crashed, or planes shot down amid Cambodian hostilities during the Vietnam War.
As a discerning tabloid reader, Schrodinger’s cat might conclude that the wreckage of MH370 had been found after four years, and that its wreckage had also not been found. Schrodinger’s feline might find the same paradox with the Enquirer story that actor Kevin Spacey has been “hiding from the law” for the past year to avoid being hit by any further allegations of sexual harassment or assault – as if Spacey's absence from the public eye would stop police from filing criminal charges or prevent any alleged victims from filing a civil suit.
The fact is that for the past year paparazzi have failed to photograph Spacey, which in the tabloid world means he’s “been in hiding.” But wait! “The Enquirer has found him!” crows the tabloid. The ousted star of Netflix series House of Cards “is holed up in a gated community in Thousand Oaks, Calif!” claims the rag. But since Spacey hasn’t been seen for 12 months, and even recent wildfires nearby “weren’t enough to smoke him out of that place” according to an unnamed source, how do we know he’s really there, and not locked in a bathroom at Starbucks in Studio City, CA? As Schrodinger’s cat appreciates, until we actually look, Spacey could be in both places at once.
Our friendly feline would have a field day with the Globe cover proclaiming to have solved President John F Kennedy’s assassination: “Finally! Proof of FIVE Shooters!” Arrested assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was a “patsy” taking the rap while four other gunmen all shot at JFK. The quintet reportedly fired a total of 13 shots at the president simultaneously, so that witnesses only described hearing three shots. Such remarkable synchronized accuracy is topped by the claim that two of the bullets collided “inside Kennedy’s head.” That’s marksmanship for you. Photographs of buildings surrounding the Dealey Plaza killing field in Dallas, Texas, appear to show blackened windows, but a “photographic analyst” claims to be able to discern gunmen hiding in the shadows.
As long as we don’t look too hard, the gunmen must be there and the story must be true – until it isn’t. Adding to the story’s plausibility, the Globe explains that the assassins were all CIA operatives acting on orders from vice president Lyndon B Johnson. Now that makes perfect sense, even to a cat facing execution at the whim of a radioactive atom’s decay.
Prince Harry’s pregnant bride Meghan Markle is the subject of equally paradoxical tabloid tales this week. “Queen Puts Meghan on a Short Leash!” reports the Globe, though sadly it’s not a story about the Royal Family’s BDSM predilections. Her Majesty apparently wants Meghan to follow traditional royal protocol, and “cannot have whatever she wants,” according to the obligatory unnamed Buckingham Palace insider (even though Meghan and Harry live at Kensington Palace).
But the Enquirer paints an altogether grimmer picture, with its cover story: “Pregnant Princess Tearing Royals Apart!” Evidently her “humiliating fashion blunders” and “terrible tantrums” have led “fed-up staff” to quit, angering the Royal Family.
“She’s Taken Over Palace,” proclaims the Enquirer, which is pretty much the opposite of being kept on a “short leash.” Schrodinger’s cat might think that both are true until we look inside the Palaces, but the feline would be mistaken – the statistical probability based on past tabloid stories about the Royals is that neither is true.
Us magazine weighs in on Prince Harry and Meghan’s planned move from Kensington Palace to their own “cottage” in the English countryside. “They want their children to grow up in as normal an environment as possible,” reports the magazine, amid photos of immaculately manicured sprawling grounds, landscaped gardens and lakes, and their “normal” ten-bedroom “cottage.” I only hope they can manage, poor dears. Life can be such a struggle for young newlyweds.
Us dedicates its cover to Jennifer Aniston, under the headline: “Therapy Saved My Life: After a devastating year, the star opens up about healing after heartbreak.” Schrodinger’s therapist might be forgiven for thinking that it was counseling after her recent split from second husband Justin Theroux that saved her – but no. Inside the mag Aniston actually “insists she wasn’t crushed by the split and that she’s content with her life.” Her therapy? It helped Aniston cope with her feelings towards her estranged mother years earlier. But did therapy “save her life?” Not to hear Aniston tell it. The actress claims that her mother was “very critical” and “very unforgiving,” but says not one word about her life being saved by therapy. Any household cat would struggle to rationalize this headline and story.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us to tell us that Ashlee Simpson wore it best (hardly a fair fight, when being compared with 69-year-old Judith Light), that Destiny’s Child alum Kelly Rowland loves stroopwafels in Amsterdam, that Victoria’s Secret model Elsa Hosk carries ChapStick, blue lip gloss (“so it makes your teeth look whiter”) and Advil in her Louis Vuitton Bumbag, and that the stars are just like us: they push their own luggage, buy groceries and eat while they work. Scintillating stuff.
The recent welcomed return of the alien-loving Sun tabloid within the pages of the National Examiner has sadly ended, presumably killed by the CIA in a plot to hide America’s darkest UFO secrets, and the whereabouts of the still-living Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Thankfully that hasn’t stopped the rag from presenting “Astonishing proof that reincarnation is real,” under the headline: “We’ve all lived before!” Which must be reassuring to Schrodinger’s cat, safe in the knowledge that if killed by poison released by a radioactive atom, at least he (or she) might be reincarnated in the safety of a Starbucks bathroom alongside Kevin Spacey.
Onwards and downwards . . .