Gossip is Storytelling

Fables and Legends: The Modern Day Coverage of History

Napoleon once said, “What is history but a fable agreed upon?”

This past week, I read a column berating people who read, observe, and absorb celebrity gossip. It was critical of what many people consider a simple pleasure or a means of escape... not a hobby necessarily, but a means of relaxing without exercising too much thought.

There’s nothing wrong with that. For some, gossip (which always has a ring of truth) is how they make their living. Celebrity news (gossip or factual or a mix of the two) is a billion dollar industry. 

Most common folks (as much as they hate to admit it) find celebrities interesting, at least to some degree. Even hipsters have their icons (Lena Dunham). 

Stars live in a separate, surreal world. It’s ridiculous and as incestuous as most political factions in the world.

No, Kristen Stewart’s bad judgment isn’t solving world hunger. It isn’t bringing peace in the Middle East, but, it is giving people jobs at a time when people are struggling to find work. 

As a sometimes journalist who has been published and holds two major awards, I support these endeavors for one simple reason: celebrity news is no different than any other type of news.

In my career, I covered scheming political figures, White Supremacists, mass murderers, high school shootings, tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes, two NFL franchises, and three Mardi Gras. How is any of that different from writing about Chris Brown and Rihanna’s troubles? That story in particular calls attention to a major issue in the world (domestic abuse). Sure, it’s sad and troubling, but the story spreads and perhaps has saved some women. 

I listened to a lecture today from CTV's etalk Reporter/Gossip Blogger Elaine Lui. She made a strong case: this is how she makes her living and history itself is derived on storytelling and even gossip (at one point, she said the Egyptian people were so “obsessed with gossip” that they wrote it on walls in stone).

The next time you peruse a celebrity gossip website or buy “People” or “US Weekly,” don’t feel guilty or ashamed - realize you’re probably helping a struggling writer or content producer stay on the job.  Not only that, if that’s how you choose to relax, so be it. Everyone deserves a little bit of time to themselves.

Or, think of it this way: where did all those stories in the Bible come from? Storytelling passed from generation to generation.  While religion teaches us these stories are true, there were no cameras, recording equipment, etc. Therefore, how do we know what really happened? We don’t. 

The same can be said for much of history. How do we know these are true stories or just gossip? Again, we don’t. 

While we may never know the truth around ancient celebrities like Mark Antony and Cleopatra, we know just as much about their modern-day equivalents.

~Devon Dean @DevonScottIndy

Image Source: We Heart It

Devon Dean is a writer, journalist, sometimes media relations/PR gal-about-town, and social media/marketing expert.  She is a native Hoosier and winner of the 2003 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for “Best Feature Series” and the 2007 Indiana Associated Press Reporter of the Year.  For  more information on Devon, check out her LinkedIn Page.

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