The tabloids use news stories to mirror and amplify their own Weltanschauung

The world is a dangerous place, UFOs are real, celebrities are aspirational icons with deeply flawed personalities, and we all want to be richer and thinner.

The tabloid year ends with a cocktail of such prejudices mixed in with the latest news, often with ancient news revived for cautionary purposes.

Troubled stars old and new preoccupy this week's tabloids.

"Tom Cruise's On-Set Emotional Breakdown! Scientology's worst nightmare!" screams the cover of the 'National Enquirer,' almost two weeks after the event, calling it an "Enquirer Exclusive."

The actor exploded on the London film set of 'Mission: Impossible 7,' railing against crew members failing to socially distance.

"Tom's rage is a desperate cry for help," unidentified "experts" inform the rag.

Tabloid-friendly psychologist Susan Constantine tells the 'Enquirer': "I think Tom Cruise had an emotional and psychological breakdown." Because as any clinical psychologist can tell you, it's best to analyze a patient from a clandestine tape recording without ever seeing or speaking to them.

'Us' magazine chimes in: "Leah Remini Reveals What Cruise Is Still Hiding – Tom's Rant Was Stunt!"

The actor's outrage was allegedly a publicity stunt to make him seem concerned about coronavirus – a disease Scientology doesn't believe in, according to 'Us.' The "psychotic rant" proves that Cruise is "an abusive dictator," says actress and Scientology apostate Remini. Loathe as.I am to defend Scientology, it should be noted that they were quick to use masks, gloves and disinfectants, and switch from in-person meetings to online gatherings in defense against a disease they evidently took seriously.

Lacking other self-destructing stars to instruct readers in the desperate hours before New Year's manic depression sets in, the 'Enquirer' reaches back into the past for what it claims is a breaking news story: "Heath Ledger Autopsy Mystery Solved! Real reason Batman legend died."

The gifted Australian actor died from "a deadly drug cocktail – including the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone, antianxiety drugs diazepam and alprazolam, and sleep meds doxylamine and temazepam," reports the 'Enquirer.'

Which is exactly the same drug cocktail that the New York medical examiner revealed after Ledger's death in 2008. Almost 13 years later there's now new "autopsy mystery solved," nor any "Heath Ledger Autopsy Shocker" as the inside page headline suggests. The 'Enquirer' is simply hoping that readers forget it's old news.

As the tabloids' aging demographic battle for each breath through ads for weight loss miracles, Life Alert monitors and tips on cancer therapies and memory loss, the 'Enquirer' puts a fun new spin on its annual list of stars poised to kick the bucket, now turning it into a game of "stars speeding toward health disasters."

"Who Will Die First ?" screams the headline introducing four pages of celebrities marked by the 'Enquirer' for an early grave.

Among the lucky contestants: Bill Cosby, Matthew Perry, Tom Selleck, Lisa Marie Presley, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman and the Queen (who is 94 years old, for heaven's sake) along with a few younger contestants known to be battling health issues: Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga and Selma Blair.

But one favored star gets his own page: "John Goodman Running Out of Time." Though the actor has reportedly lost "an astonishing 130 pounds," he allegedly fears that "the damage from his debauched past of alcohol and cocaine abuse will catch up to him." Don't we all.

Royal scandals continue to titillate the tabloids, though this week they are grabbing at even more straws than usual.

"Andrew's Teen Slave Alibi Explodes!" proclaims the front page of the 'Globe.' It's a selective rewrite of British newspaper the Daily Mail's deep-dive analysis into Prince Andrew's story about his involvement – or lack of one – with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's alleged under-age sex slave Virginia Giuffre, and merits the headline: "Beatrice Sinks Dad Andrew's Sex Alibi!"

But Princess Beatrice didn't actually "torpedo the public alibi" Andrew used to discredit Virginia Giuffre (he claimed he couldn't have been having sex with Giuffre because on the night in question he was with daughter Beatrice at a birthday party held in a pizza parlor in Woking, Surrey.) Beatrice didn't say her father was lying. She simply can't recall attending a friend's birthday party at a pizza parlour 20 years ago when she was just 12 years old. Seriously, does anyone remember every pizza parlor they visited at the age of 12 when asked to recall it two decades later?

Beloved easy targets Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are in the sights of the 'Enquirer' this week, which reports: "Harry & Meghan: We Have Too Much Money!" As if.

The 'Enquirer' claims that because the Royals signed a reported $100 million deal with Netflix and another lucrative deal with Spotify they "have more money than they know what to do with," and will have to spend millions to "avoid paying tax on it," according to an unnamed "insider."

The 'Enquirer' claims they will buy "a private jet, a limousine or two, plus donate sizeable amounts to their favorite charities." But the 'Enquirer' doesn't seem to reallize that Netflix's $100 million will largely be used to finance films and TV series, and that it's not $100 million going into Harry and Meghan's pockets.

The deal is also most likely structured to release payments over several years dependent on favorable ratings, and if their initial projects are flops the deal will quickly disappear, along with most of the fabled $100 million.

Music royalty Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani continue to make headlines with their coming wedding.

"Blake Freaks Out As Gwen Chases Another Guy!" reports the 'Globe' with glee, But as the story eventually makes clear, while the happy couple are poised to tie the knot, Stefani is certainly not looking for another man. She simply wants to get into a recording studio with other artists, just like any other musician or singer.

'People' magazine meanwhile devotes its cover to the couple: "Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton – Planning Their Dream Wedding." And there's no mention of her chasing another man.

It wouldn't be the tabloids without UFOs, and this week the 'Enquirer' and 'Globe' are in agreement: the mystery of the alleged alien spacecraft that crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, has finally been solved.

"What Really Happened at Roswell!" reports the 'Enquirer.'

The newly-released diaries of US Army Major Jesse Marcel Sr,, who was sent to investigate the wreckage found at Roswell, reportedly claimed to find "indestructible debris that was not made by human hands." But he was an Army intelligence officer, not a metallurgist, so his opinion hardly passes muster as scientific analysis, and certainly doesn't tell "what really happened."

"Roswell UFO Crash: Truth After 74 Years," claims the 'Globe.'

Major Marcel's diary is cited again, allegedly reporting an indestructible metal with "alien writing," which may be interesting but hardly qualifies as the "truth." Major Marcel tried to drill into the metal but his drill bit broke, he wrote, and a flame from his cigarette lighter didn't melt it. Certainly sounds like a solid scienticfic test for indestructibility. Must be from a UFO if a cigarette lighter can't melt it.

After a sedentary year of pandemic lockdowns and self-imposed quarantines, the tabloids' ever-expanding readership (in waist size, that is, not in sheer numbers) are treated by 'Us' magazine to its cover story: "Diets That Work!" It's that time of year when celebrities share their weight-loss secrets.

'People' mag brings us its own feature: "How We Got Healthy!" It's that time of year when "real people" share their weight-loss secrets. Plus "celebs who lost weight in quarantine."

But while 'People' may want you to think you can look like a wafer-thin celebrity, they know readers really want to indulge like everyone else, which is why they also bring us recipes for Baked Macaroni & Cheese, and Turkey Burger Chili.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' mag to tell us that Natalie Portman wore it best, that Brian Austin Green is "most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt," and that the stars are just like us: they ride bikes, play golf, run errands and take out the trash. Exciting, as always.

Bringing us useless information thats also old, the 'Globe' informs readers that One Direction singer Harry Styles "has four nipples" – a condition he actually confirmed more than three years ago. Glad they finally caught up with such important news.

Onwards and downwards . . .