Me and my trashy habit

I have a taste for cheap gossip magazines, a hobby acquired and nurtured at the University of Chicago. One of my friends got a free subscription to People, and we’d pass each weekly edition around our group, gorging on glossy photos and italicized revelations like dieters set loose in a candy shop. The taste never quite went away. I still find the concept of a life put out for public consumption to be fascinating; not the bottom-feeding ethos of the reality star but the negotiated stance of the person whose work or position require public buy-in. The crafting and selling of the image, the flow of the narrative; the interplay between commodities and what is, after all, someone’s one and only real life.  There’s a code, a language, with its own signifiers and signifieds and ever-changing shades of truth and sensation. I love it.

I’m particularly struck when something one of these public people says rings flat-out true. Michelle Williams, an actress who is generally press-shy but who, in the run-up to a promising bid for an Oscar, we can expect to see bursting into every available frame, said something in a recent interview that perfectly framed for me that alien sense that absolutely everyone else knows exactly what’s going on while you, and you alone, aren’t in on the joke.

Part of it’s here:

“I didn’t know how to keep myself warm in the winter or cool in the summer. It felt like somebody was withholding all the secrets—how to take care of yourself and where to get the things that would help you take care of yourself. I just literally didn’t know where to go. I was too shy to ask for help or to admit that I was cold or that I was uncomfortable or that I didn’t know what I was doing. Look, I didn’t know what I was doing at so many points in my life that I felt that if I had stopped and admitted that I didn’t know what I was doing then I would be really lost, and the best thing to do was to just keep forging and to act like you were okay.”

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Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 8:09 PM  Leave a Comment  
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