Any person with a limited imagination—a dad, a date, almost any man–can tell you that following celebrity news is stupid, even sinister. It’s rotting our brains; it’s causing societal decay! Pinballing between condescension and contempt, they’ll make sure you understand: If you follow celebrity news, you lack substance.
“Let us have our pop culture gossip and we’ll leave you your fantasy football league,” laughs Emily, who built a following of 200,000 people in two months on TikTok under the handle It’sBecomeAWholeThing with frank, funny videos analyzing celebrity news. For Emily, who has a day job working for a charity, celebrity culture is a form of escapism. But her videos play less like gossip vlogs and more like the work of an NPR pundit crossed with a true-crime enthusiast and a dirtbag podcaster. She is part of a growing group of creators who decode blind items, analyze paparazzi shots, cross-reference timelines, and note tiny details, like the agency credit on a photograph. For many people, the allure of celebrity is the fantasy. But for a growing group, the fun part of celebrity is figuring out which part is fake.
Examples of Emily’s TikToks: Footage of celeb couples taking adorable coffee walks, shot at close enough range to see that the coffee cups are empty and bone dry. In another video, she tabulates every branded Instagram post a certain celebrity couple did in the lead-up to their lavish wedding. The branded posts are funny at first, and then outlandish, and then suddenly, it’s clear how much financial interest there was in a wedding that looked to the public like a pure celebration of love.
“It’s really important we’re seeing a rise of people who are analyzing these things and deconstructing these things,” says Jordan, another creator, under the handle JordanMaryAdele, who says she puts two-to-three hours of research into each of her minute-long videos analyzing celebrities. “It’s naive to say it doesn’t matter, because it does—we’ve made it matter.”
These creators are not fans or stans, trolls or haters. They are, as Emily jokes, a “grassroots” movement: think Instagram’s Deuxmoi, think YouTubers like Intelexual Media and Mina Le, think the three (yes, three) popular podcasts that analyze celebrity memoirs (Celebrity Memoir Book Club, Celebrity Book Club, and Celebrity Book Club, of course!) They all offer the bluntness of the Perez Hilton blogger era without the abject cruelty. These creators and their audiences are the people who watched Britney Spears raised up, hunted down, tossed aside, and eventually, set free. They witnessed decades of Monica Lewinsky jokes give way to Lewinsky producing her own prestige TV show, and saw Paris Hilton go from consummate party girl to releasing a documentary on childhood trauma. This is an audience who learned to distinguish between reality and reality TV. They saw the unmasking of violent men—many of them celebrities—during the #MeToo movement. They migrated from LiveJournal to Tumblr to Snapchat to Instagram to TikTok.
Original posted at www.glamour.com