So why do people care so much about the lives of celebrities?

I mean the nitty gritty shit, who they are banging, what they are eating, where they are shopping, whose getting married or divorced?

People are apparently eager for pics of Britney Spears shopping in Walgreens(a confidential informant told us these were the items purchased!) and eager to comment.

My theory is that as people lead less social more isolated lives they are missing some kind of outlet to gossip and comment about the neighbors/village members. As highly social animals it is probably an innate need to observe others lives and discuss and build some kind of sense of norm, whether that is bad or good is up for debate but it does seem to be a need.

I think celebrities fill the void, people can analyze their lives and actions and process and comment on it like someone hundreds of years ago would be doing with their neighbors or town residents.

I can’t understand why people would care much about the lives of celebrities, especially as far as awards shows and that kind of thing. But personally I’m somewhat interested in things like how celebrities do certain ordinary things, mostly the logistics of it. They can get their minions to do a lot of things for them but they must still need to personally go to the DMV and get a license. Or I don’t care what their spotless mansions look like, but if I happen to see a picture with real lived-in surroundings in the background I’ll look at it. It’s not that I really care about them specifically, just how people live in the spotlight.

I recently asked this same question at a small dinner part and received blank stares so either they agreed with me or felt the answer was so obvious it required no response.

To me, celebrities have one main function: entertain me and I, in turn, will pay the cost of admission. Beyond that, I really have no interest in their personal lives any more than they have an interest in mine.

I’ve never understood this either.

I have a baseless suspicion that we don’t care at all, and the Media just perpetuates the myth that we do. We just consume the trash passively, but they interpret our behaviour as insatiable curiosity.

I do think there is a case of supply creating demand here. But there are plenty of celebrity gossip magazines which people buy, and that is more than just passive consumption.

I had to read the OP twice before I realised the title contained the word “lives” - I had read it as “livers”, and I thought this thread was going to about celebrities drinking habits. The mention of Britney did not exactly disabuse me of this notion :).

On topic, personally I have little to no interest but I have been known to “passively consume” (as someone so nicely put it upthread) celeb news - I would never pay for it, but I might read it if there was really nothing better available. I think the theory is that people admire most celebrities for whatever talent made them a celebrity in the first place, and then every report of celebrities doing “normal” things just makes us a feel a bit closer those we worship. Seems reasonable to me.

I have a theory that watching celebrities fail makes normal folks feel better about themselves.

It’s an Illuminati conspiracy. Having their media show us the massive problems that celebrities endure discourages the lower classes from rebelling for equal status. The proles are conditioned to feel that money will not ease their current problems, and who wants all those photographers following them?

In truth, celebrities have it remarkably good. Most stories in the gossip magazines are fiction. The rich are eating fresh babies for dinner and flying to China for take-out.

it gives you a distraction from yours own miserable existence. celebrities and athletes don’t get paid nearly enough for what they give us.

That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

“Man, Jennifer Aniston / Angelina Jolie / Kim Kardashian sure is gorgeous and rich, but her men still treat her like dirt.”

“Wow, Lindsey Lohan / Britney Spears sure has a lot of talent, but her life is still a train wreck.”

This. Or more broadly, “look at that outrageous and foolish behavior by someone who apparently has everything! I don’t have everything, and I have more sense than that!”

Tangent: should I start a separate thread for the number of times someone has started telling me this stuff and I’ve rudely said something like “meh, that doesn’t interest me” and they keep fucking talking?

I’d like to know who these “close personal friends” are who report the dirty laundry of their famous “friends”. Sell gossip about your “friend” to a tabloid? Nice friend. Also when headlines blare “The Secret XXXX of <Famous Person>!” No so damn secret anymore, is it?! I actually feel bad for celebrities, it seems like they can’t trust anyone.

As for paparazzi: I think they are bottom-feeding scum. If a regular person was being stalked, staked out and photographed without their consent the cops would be called. But it’s okay for these slimeballs to use their high-powered lenses to take photos of little kids just because the kid’s parent is famous? WTF? If someone, anyone, was hiding in the bushes taking photos of my child I’d go berserk.

I don’t give a rat’s ass about what celebrities do in their everyday lives. They are regular people who happen to have a high-profile career. What they do with their career, how they look and act “on the red carpet”, and how they treat those around them is what interests me, not when they’re playing with their kids in Central Park or grocery shopping.

Ten years ago when I was working in an office setting where I was one of four men and about 30 plus women i learned quite a bit.
Once on a cigarette break i asked a lady why she bought the celeb mags. She said simply that reading about them fascinated her… and took her mind off her own life… one in which i later learned included rotten kids… and a husband who had abandoned her emotionally.
It seems pretty clear to me that demand is ahead of supply in this matter… and that we’ve always had this need to gawk. It’s also clear to me that the goto response is always…“I think its stupid… I would never bother… who cares”…
I’ll acknowledge that I read several small pieces on Tom Cruise Katie Holmes break-up. The combination of her being gorgeous… my ex making me sit thru Dawson Creek… Cruise being in soo many damn movies and his weird ass “religion”… interesting…

A lot of people would like to know the salacious details of their friends and neighbor’s lives. Its hard to find that in a magazine.

Sorta-kinda in my opinion. People find other people fascinating. People like to talk about other people. But no one in my office (for example) knows and my of friends or neighbors. Celebrities are a shared experience in that we likely both know why Brittney Spears is and can discuss her make-up choices at the drug store and what flavor of Arizona tea she likes best.

Or, more salaciously, who she’s currently fucking and what drug arrests she’s being tried for.

Some people are more inclined to gossip than others. They’re just interested more in reading or talking about the lives of others than living their own. No value judgment, though… it’s just a form of escapism and entertainment (like watching tv or playing video games). And it’s better for them than drinking! So, what’s the problem? I mean, if someone asks me why I like to play computer games, I’d say, “Because it’s fun.” Same principle applies to celebrity-watching.

Vicarious enjoyment. As most grind out lives with minimal money and prestige, they look to those with more for fulfillment.

I kinda get it, and I kinda don’t. I spend a lot of my free time researching random things, and often it’s the life of a celebrity. I’ll go dig up all their movies/albums, pester the library for books – bonus points if the obscure book is something they’ve written, and JACKPOT! if they’ve actually got a readable autobiography – and go scouting around online for interviews, particularly if they’re recent enough to have been on video. But I really only do it if the celebrity in question is someone I’d also be interested in if I knew them personally. I run a profile on them because they’re intriguing; I just know they exist because they’ve been in a bunch of movies. In that case, I pay attention to minutia the same as I would someone I get to hang around in person. Details can tell you more than you’d think.

On the other hand, I don’t get why Random Celebrity X getting coffee is so fascinating to most people that nationally-distributed magazines will pay money for a picture of it. Hoovering up gossip about anyone famous that happens to cross your radar is essentially paying attention to something strictly because other people are paying attention to it, which isn’t usually enough of a reason for me to care. Paparazzi photos also give me the willies for reasons I can’t quite explain, and I refuse to use them when I do my researching bit – I stick strictly to things the celebrity intended to make public. (Or, if I’m poking into true crime stuff, what the investigation made public.) So I can’t give you the general reason for it, on account of I apparently squick easily when confronted with invasions of privacy, and I avoid them.

I suspect that a lot of it is either schadenfreude or an effort to identify with people we see as living on a different plane of existence. Look, we both get Starbucks in the morning! or Hey, at least my life isn’t a giant public drug disaster! I tend to pick different stuff to identify with, though, so the whole bonding-through-coffee thing doesn’t work well for me.