Is the coronavirus behind the fevered imaginations supplying the plots for this week’s tawdry tabloids?
The lives of the British Royal Family play out like the pre-dawn sweats of a hallucinatory nightmare of unprecedented horror.
“This is the royals’ greatest crisis ever,” an unidentified palace courtier, who clearly never heard of Oliver Cromwell, tells the ’National Enquirer.'
“It could end the monarchy” - a phrase becoming as commonplace as “the most dramatic season of ‘The Bachelor’ ever.”
What’s the existential crisis this week?
“Harry Ordered Home! Charles’ infection creates chaos! Fears Queen has virus, too! Furious Meghan threatens divorce as exit deal is scrapped.”
Firstly, that’s burying the lede, since a divorce between Harry & Meghan would be a truly dramatic development, if only it were true. Which it’s not.
Secondly, Prince Charles has recovered from his quadrille with COVID-19 quite nicely, thank you, and the Queen has not tested positive for the virus, so there’s probably a lot less chaos in Buckingham Palace than the ‘Enquirer’ might like to imagine.
Finally, if Charles ordered Harry home, he would have gone, since Charles is still funding Harry to the tune of several million pounds a year, even though the British taxpayer is no longer on the hook for Harry’s fun and games. The fact that Harry and his wife and baby Archie flew instead to the Los Angeles area speaks volumes about how how much Charles dared to order around his youngest son.
“Prince Andrew Indicted!” screams the over-sized headline on the cover of the ‘Globe.’
But was he?
In a story remarkably free of detail or logic, even by usual tabloid standards, it seems highly unlikely that Prince Charles’ younger brother has actually been indicted.
And for what?
“Epstein Sex Scandal Nightmare!” the ‘Globe’ cover yells again, as if we need reminding.
But on what charge has Prince Andrew allegedly been indicted?
For allegedly having sex with a minor? For obstructing justice by refusing to cooperate with investigating authorities? For lying about his hypohydrosis problem when clearly he sweats like a pig when he dances?
The ‘Globe’ laughably admits “details are scarce,” but claims that “Andrew has been secretly indicted by a federal grand jury.”
U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District Geoffrey Berman has said he was “considering options” about how to get Andrew to testify, and one might imagine that his first option would be to issue a subpoena ordering Andrew to submit to an interview. An indictment on unknown charges by a grand jury seems far-fetched, but we’ll watch this space for developments.
“Harry’s Private Pain - What Have I Done?” cries the cover of ‘Us’ magazine. Prince Harry is evidently "Guilt-ridden by Queen & Charles’ health crisis. Flees Canada for L.A. amid border chaos. Panicked over $1m security bill to protect Archie.”
Harry’s probably a sight less guilt-ridden now that Charles has been given a clean bill of health and the Queen remains virus-free, but the mag says: “He’s overwhelmed with guilt over not being closer to home.”
But is he? And why is his pain so private (apart from being smeared across the cover of ‘Us’ mag)? Harry is allegedly shielding his fears from wife Meghan, who “doesn’t know the extent of Harry’s anxiety.” Well she does now, if she reads ‘Us’ mag.
Angelina Jolie, one of the tabloids’ favorite targets, gets it on all sides from this week’s rags.
“Kit’s Wife Fears Angie’s Games!” reports the ‘Enquirer’ about ‘Game of Thrones’ star Kit Harrington going on tour with Angelina Jolie to promote their movie ‘The Eternals,’ which allegedly has his wife worried because “everybody knows that Angie is on the prowl for a man,” according to an unnamed insider. Right.
The ‘Globe’ meanwhile portrays Jolie as a manipulative vixen, with its highly dubious claim: “Lethal Weapon! Angelina plotting to use Jennifer against Brad in custody war.”
Implausibly, the story suggests that Jennifer Aniston will be called as a witness in Jolie's custody battle with Pitt to prove that ex-husband Brad Pitt is an unfit father to his children with Jolie. Don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen.
Meanwhile Ben Affleck and his new girlfriend, ‘Knives Out’ actress Ana de Armas, also get the treatment from both sides of the tabloids, though to very different, quite schizophrenic ends.
"Ben and Ana’s First Big Fight,” reports the ‘Enquirer,’ after the couple were allegedly spotted by a photographer talking heatedly, or at least, waving their arms around. “She’s already had it with his whining,” the rag explains.
But the lovebirds couldn’t be happier according to stable-mate the ‘Globe,’ which captured the couple unable to keep those wildly gesticulating hands off one another, under the headline: “Sealed With A Kiss!”
Because the tabloids truly have no idea what’s going on in any relationship, beyond the fleeting moments a photographer captures in a long lens.
Stating the blindingly obvious, the ‘Enquirer’ reports on jailed sex criminal Bill Cosby: “Cosby Wants Out of Cage To Escape Coronavirus!” Okay, so he’s legally blind, not stupid.
‘People’ mag devotes its cover to the scandal-free nuptials of the late animal expert Steve Irwin’s daughter: “Bindi Irwin’s Emotional Wedding.”
It’s unclear from the cover photo if she’s married the gorgeous koala bear or the goofy-looking guy holding it. The photo spread inside shows the happy couple posing variously with a giraffe, python, koala and two pet dogs, which is quite crowded even for the most polyamorous of relationships.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative squad at ‘Us’ mag to tell us that Cara Delevingne wore it best, that ‘Westworld’ star Jeffrey Wright’s first job was “as a locker room attendant in a public swimming pool in Washington, D.C.,” and that the stars are just like us: they go on coffee runs (Christian Bale in a photo from March 9 - good luck finding an open coffeeshop these days), they cheer at sporting events (where are those these days? Lily Allen was at one way back on March 13), and go shopping (Lucy Hale on March 9 doing something we all vaguely remember once doing.) Yes, it’s apparently been three weeks since the paparazzi even saw a celebrity doing anything out in public, so ‘Us’ keeps digging deeper into its archives to keep alive the illusion that the stars are just like us.
And is this the end of an era? ‘Us’ magazine is published this week without a single D-List star willing to open their handbag to spill the contents - invariably keys, lipgloss, moisturizer and sunglasses. Has the magazine finally run out of non-entities willing to disgorge the mess inside their purse? Or has the mag’s Editor, shamed by this regular feature’s vacuous fatuity in the face of such an existential threat as a global pandemic, given the celebrity handbag the boot?
Nah, it’ll probably be back next week.
Onwards and downwards . . .