Each celebrity has a tabloid quintessence as distinctive as a fingerprint: a pithy descriptor that distills their intrinsic scandal-value for those whose idea of journalism begins and ends at the supermarket check-out.
Subtle as a sledgehammer, elegant as a power drill, this adjectival shorthand characterizes the stars in a manner that is, in theory, verboten in mainstream reporting.
And so we have this week’s ‘National Enquirer’ bring us “serial sleaze Matt Lauer,” “hot mess Heather Locklear,” “bad boy Ben" Affleck, “Diva Duchess Meghan” Markle, “acid-tongued Sharon Osbourne,” “red-hot mama Kelly Clarkson,” and “booty-shakers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.”
There’s “twisted killer Phil Spector,” “spendthrift Lori Loughlin,” “train wreck Matthew Perry,” “NASCAR hottie Danica Patrick,” “NFL stud Aaron Rodgers,” “desperate diva Madonna,” and “doting dad Mark Consuelos."
The ‘Globe’ brings us “troubled Aaron Carter,” “henpecked” Prince Harry, “bony beauty Angelina Jolie,” “makeup mogul Kylie Jenner,” “jailed sex creep Bill Cosby,” “man-magnet Miranda Lambert,” and “real-life ladykiller Phil Spector.”
Such subjective labelling, as balanced as weighted dice, deliberately tilts readers toward the angle being promulgated by the story, seemingly reinforcing the veracity of otherwise questionable reporting.
There may be a thousand ways to describe Taylor Swift - talented, successful, multi-millionaire, beautiful, empowering, inspirational - but the ‘Enquirer’ opts for “Cat lover Taylor Swift’ in its story about her “Cats-tastrophe” role in the panned movie musical ‘Cats.’
“Sticky-fingered actress Olivia Wilde” earns this distinctive soubriquet in a ‘Globe’ story about her taking a stage prop - a book - from the set of 'Saturday Night Live.’
“Bad-tempered ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ alum Vicki Gunvalson” warrants this psychological analysis for a ‘Globe’ story about her alleged fury with producers of a reunion TV show.
Country singer Garth Brooks is planning to tour with Miranda Lambert, but in pushing a dubious romance story the ‘Globe’ brands him “Smitten Garth Brooks.”
And Ricky Gervais is many things, but after his completely anticipated insult-fest hosting the Golden Globe Awards, the ‘Globe’ calls him “boring, talentless,” which might be going a tad far even for them.
All the more shocking, then, to find that the ‘Globe’ actually got one right this week - even when it got it wrong.
“Harry & Meghan Moving to Canada!” screams the headline in its “World Exclusive,” published just hours before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their surprise plan to move to Canada.
But while the world’s media spent Wednesday reporting how the British Royal Family were blindsided by the unexpected announcement, and how it’s a move propelled by Harry and Meghan’s frustrations with life within the confines and claustrophobic protocol of the Royal Family, the ‘Globe’ has the motivation all wrong.
“Harry & Meghan Exiled to Canada!” claims the rag, which quotes a “high-level palace insider” claiming that it was the Queen who “exiled them on a permanent basis.”
The ‘Globe’ will doubtless herald its own brilliance for the scoop, but the fact remains that they got the headline right but the story wrong, just as they did with virtually every other story the ‘Globe’ has run on the Royals for the past couple of years. With so much fantastical thinking at work, the law of averages suggests that they had to accidentally get one story right eventually.
The Royals naturally get the tawdry tabloid treatment in the ‘Enquirer’ as well, which reports: “Royal Feud Explodes. Meghan attacks Kate! Meghan Trashes Kate & Her Kids!”
Duchess Kate supposedly extended an olive branch to Meghan, who “warned her to butt out of their lives.”
A “high-level palace source” - my, they’re everywhere this week - claims that Meghan banned William and Kate from seeing son Archie. Apparently Kate and William’s offspring play in the yard and climb trees, and Meghan "will not let those ‘dirty kids’ anywhere near her son!” Expect next week’s story to reveal that Duchess Meghan is a germaphobe.
“Restaurant bans Harry & diva bride,” reports another ‘Enquirer’ story. The Deep Cove Chalet restaurant on Canada’s Vancouver Island allegedly turned away Harry & Meghan because “they couldn’t accommodate the couple’s security needs.” Which is not quite the same as banning them.
The ‘Enquirer 'cover is devoted to TV’s ‘Jeopardy’ host, with the headline: “New Cancer Miracle Drug Will Save Alex Trebek.” Or it won’t. That’s how new cancer miracles drugs often go.
The ‘Globe’ persists in watching every morsel that passes the lips of Angelina Jolie, and claims: “100-lb Angelina Refusing to Eat!” An unnamed “snitch” - presumably someone too loathsome to be dubbed a “source” or “insider” or “pal” - alleges that: “nobody can remember the last time she ate a full meal!” So clearly they remember her eating part of a meal, which means she isn’t refusing to eat. QED.
Thankfully we have the crack investigative team at ‘Us’ magazine to tell us that Emilia Clarke wore it best, that TV’s ‘Bachelor’ Peter Weber’s “favorite food is Cuban,” that actress Jennifer Coolidge carries her father’s Harvard ski club medallion, body bath and a “bedazzled Mace” canister in her Escama Studio purse made from recycled soda pop pull rings, and that the stars are just like us: they buy flowers, get mani-pedis, grab a slice of pizza to go, and cook healthy meals. Well, which is it? Do they grab a slice or cook healthy? So confusing, these celebrities.
Onwards and downwards . . .