Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Jennifer Aniston ate my kebab.

A lot of the chat at The London Film Festival concerns the hoaxes carried out against tabloid newspapers in a mischievous documentary by Chris Atkins called Starsuckers. Seeking to demonstrate how gullible celebrity journalists can be (as if!), the film-makers …

Thu, Oct 15, 2009, 15:08

   

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A lot of the chat at The London Film Festival concerns the hoaxes carried out against tabloid newspapers in a mischievous documentary by Chris Atkins called Starsuckers. Seeking to demonstrate how gullible celebrity journalists can be (as if!), the film-makers phoned up a number of papers with outrageous stories and watched, faintly astonished, as their most ludicrous fantasies were published as hard fact. It seems Amy Winehouse’s hair went on fire. Sources say Guy Ritchie received a black eye from juggling cutlery. Most hilariously, the Sun and the Mirror accepted that Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding had developed an interest in quantum mechanics. (Annoyingly for its enemies, The Daily Mail was the only tabloid to turn down all the supposed scoops.)

This is all good fun, but media watchers have known for some time that celebrity journalism has totally lost contact with reality. The most spectacular manifestation of this disengagement is the ongoing coverage of the largely invented soap opera involving Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. As I understand it, the monosyllabically-titled celeb loo-rolls — Closer, Heat, Crap, Stodge, Poo — operate as follows. Somebody looks at the latest pap shot of Aniston, Jolie or Pitt and dreams up a story based on whether the relevant star is smiling, scowling, holding a can of beer, speaking down a telephone or whatever. The most prized photograph is one of Pitt and Jolie looking in different directions. “Ang and Brad to go their separate ways?” Poo shrieks. “Is it all over?” Well, it must be all over. After all, there’s a big simulated tear (as in torn, not as in weeping), separating a slightly grumpy-looking Brad from a characteristically deranged-looking Angie, down the middle of the magazine’s unspeakably busy cover. If they can now find a recent photograph of Jennifer on the phone then they’re really flying. “Jen comforts Brad as he threatens to storm out on Ang,” Balls magazine will shout. We have had celebrity soap operas in the past, but never before has so much newsprint been generated by so few hard facts.

You know all this. The question is: how on earth do readers fall for it? I may be naive, but I don’t think many of them do. I suspect that most punters view the Ang/Brad/Jen saga the way they might view professional wrestling. They know it’s all fake, but, for the few seconds the stories (or fights) detain them, they allow reason to be overwhelmed by sensation.

Anyway, as you can see from the image above, Jennifer Aniston ate my kebab. I want a new kebab, Aniston. I want it now!