Stepping out of the limelight

Adam Griffiths

I’m tossing in the flag.

In an effort to not write another column about the demise of celebrity A-listers, I’m doing it again. Sometimes I sit back before I dive into writing one of these scathing diatribes about who got arrested, who’s sleeping with who and who’s staged the best paparazzi moment of the past week. I wonder why on earth we care about this. And then I wonder if we really do care.

And then I get a breaking news alert from CNN:

“A court has ordered pop singer Britney Spears to give up custody of her children effective Wednesday at noon, according to court papers.”

Enough is enough.

As much as I love, love, love Perez Hilton, a full page of stories all about the queen of celebrity trashdom, a.k.a. Britney Spears, is a little excessive. From the initial ruling to remove Spears’ children from her custody, to the revelation that she’s been driving illegally in the state of California since who knows when, to her post-child drop-off tanning visit and Tuesday’s headline in New York’s Daily News, “Unfitney!” – the only thing I was asking myself by the end of all these briefs was, “Why do we care so much?”

When I connected with Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy for this week’s feature article about her show next week with Brandi Carlile in Cleveland, she was at Wal-Mart. Sudol was picking up a coffee mug, mouthwash and mayonnaise before catching a plane to the next city on their trip. Carlile told me she had just finished up her series of antibiotics and apologized for being scratchy as she was getting over bronchitis.

Maybe fame goes to fans’ heads more than to celebrities’. On the same note, a lot of people may wish to be famous, and that’s all well and good. Talent agents scour the world, discover the diamonds in the rough and clean them up well enough for a few weeks of intense limelight and public scrutiny. Many fall out of our ever-so-critical eyes, but those who stick – those who stick are nothing less than earthly gods.

Example? Lindsay Lohan. Lohan is as tired as the barrage of headlines devoted to her roller coaster life. She didn’t get out of rehab yet, but when she does, you can be sure to expect a media frenzy as ripe as the attention the night that won her the latest trip received.

In September, Elle magazine ran a piece by Holly Millea, a reporter who’s spent more than an intimate moment with the fleeting starlet.

“The most consistent, unconditional love Lohan gets in life has to be from the lens,” Millea writes.

Don’t call me hypocritical. While the Elle article does nearly enough to elicit a lingering gut reaction of pity for a girl who grew up in Hollywood’s spotlight instead of her parent’s attention, it doesn’t do enough. Until we, the audience, casually pass by the headlines of Us Weekly, People, OK! magazines and all the other gossip rags out there, the anecdote that Millea uses to close her profile is the most relevant news in the world.

“By the time I woke up Sunday,” she wrote, “the Sunset Boulevard smashup was all over the news. I checked my e-mail, clicking on the first from a string of messages from friends and colleagues all dying to know the same thing.

“‘Are you still in L.A.?!!’ the e-mail read. ‘Please, please tell me you were in the car with her when she crashed!'”

You know you wish you were.