The XX Factor

Why Is Kate Gosselin Our Only Remaining Celebrity?

Willa, it’s amazing that Kate Gosselin-and Kate Gosselin’s hair -have graced the cover of US Weekly for the past six weeks . And it’s clear that hunger for TomKat news has waned. But I’ve become increasingly skeptical of economy-driven explanations for shifts in mass culture, and I’m not as sure as you seem to be that this preference for reality-based tabloid fodder is attributable to our downbeat financial forecast. Reading the New York Times style section, you’d think that there was no such thing as a trend before the collapse; we just floated merrily along sporting the same bags and shoes, waiting for a crisis to come along so we could finally change our wardrobes, last updated around 1929 or so. People were awakening to the severity of the crisis back in August; Lehman brothers imploded in September. I am hesitant to ascribe our current taste for bright, flouncy skirts to something AIG did last fall.

Strange as it might sound, I think the taste for uncelebrity reflects a more sophisticated tabloid readership. Brangelina cover stories read like ad copy when they’re positive and telenovela plots when they’re negative. Profiles of people to whom journalists have so little access tend to be unreadable , even in better magazines. Who wants to be spoon-fed publicist drivel in the age of Youtube? Susan Boyle and Octomom are still media constructs on some level, but their publicity teams are clearly less competent, and that’s something.