Who is the Queen of the Tabloids?
Welcome to my first-ever and inaugural attempt to break Google Analytics by publishing an article whose tags are intentionally calculated to set fire to the Google search function. The somewhat skimpy excuse for piling all these internet search-bait skanks into a single article is a pseudo-scholarly inquiry into the nature of celebrity. In this article, we will pose the question, "what is it about these horrible, horrible women that causes idle bystanders in supermarket checkout lines (not to mention the internet) to become so wholly fixated on them." We will explore whether, for the sake of some kind of Manichaean duality, Jennifer Aniston shouldn't have been included on the list to balance Angelina.
Seriously, though, this article will attempt to quantify why these eight women so fascinate the public despite (because of?) their (generally) apparent shallowness. In order to establish weighted criteria for our evaluations, we polled our readership (okay...you caught me...I asked a couple of guys at work, awright?) about those factors that constitute a real staple of tabloid readership. Since not all factors are equal, we've assigned a relative value to each criteria, as follows:
Altogether, these potential points add up to a possible total of 100, just because here at the Primary Sources column we're sympathetic souls, and we feel as though there should be one chance, in some universe, for one of these women to earn a mark approximating 100%.
So, wishing the competitors the best of luck and readying the grand prize (a month's supply of Valtrex, 200 tabs of Respiradol and a complimentary certificate for one free Tijauna divorce) we herewith open the contest. May the best worst example win!
I have a number of friends who believe Angie is the hottest creature on the face of the earth. And since she snagged Brad Pitt, often referred to as the Sexiest Man Alive (when that title is not being awarded to George Clooney or Matt Damon), who am I to argue? Angie gets 19 out of 20 possible hotness points, with only one point held in reserve because nobody's perfect.
For craziness, she starts out of the gate strong by wearing a vial of blood around her neck and scarring herself with knives as part of foreplay. Plus, she gets bonus crazy points for considering Billy Bob Thornton beddable. But she fails in the home stretch due to her more recent responsible behaviour adopting famine babies and ambassadorring for the U.N. Too bad, Angie, you were on a roll there for a while. Final crazy score? A weak 15, strictly for old time's sake.
For global notoriety, she gets a weak score of 8. She just hasn't ruffled enough feathers, especially lately. If it were a global 'good guy' fame contest, she'd have done better, but that's not the name of the game with this contest. After all, we've got to pander to the lowest possible denominator somehow.
Similarly on the scandalous behaviour front, Angie's just been too well-behaved lately. She could have made up some points for stealing Brad from Jen, but even that was characterized by too little hint of misbehaviour. Result? A too-upright score of 9.
Total Score for Angelina Jolie? A meagre 51 out of 100.
At first glance, Britt-Britt, today's most celebrated train wreck is a no-brainer (poor Brit) for the overall title. Put away your spreadsheets, boys, we've got a winner. Ding ding! (or is that ding dang?). But wait! In the interest of the scientific method (and to give poor ol' Katie Holmes at least a chance of being considered (after all, she went to the trouble of marrying Tom Cruise, for chrissakes...let 'er have her shot!), we need to go through the motions. So here we go.
For hotness, Britney starts off with an impressive score, based on the degree to which she was on every boy's wish list a couple of years back. Her aerobicized, verging-on-womanhood, carefully managed image launched a thousand...er...ad campaigns. But, flash forward to today, where she has become a puffy parody of her former self, sadly wrapping her bloated carcass around a stripper pole to a vast yawn of indifference. Today, a full-blown porn tape is about the only thing that could resurrect any interest in poor, oft-institutionalized Britney as an object of desire. Hotness score? A charitable 8 out of 20, and that only because there's still an out out-of-touch adolescent or two out there saying "I'd still hit that".
For craziness points, Britney is the gold standard. Hospitalized twice in the full glare of the public eye, trailing incidents of bizarre behaviour behind her like a veil of toilet paper stuck to her shoe, they don't come much crazier than she does. The only thing keeping Britney from racking up the maximum points in this category is the nagging feeling that if the paparazzi followed me 24-7 they'd observe some pretty weird stuff too...total score, 26 out of 30.
For global notoriety, well, they don't come more well-known than Britney. There are Yanomamo Indians darting spider monkeys in the rain forest who can lip synch all the words to Oops! I Did it Again. But she fails to get all the points she could, because all things being equal, outside the hot media glare of the U.S., she's still just as famous for her stardom as she is for her freaked-out hi-jinks. Remember, the Yanomamo don't get TMZ. So, her final global notoriety score comes in at a still-respectable 14 out of 20.
Scandalous behaviour ups the ante for Britt. Her nanosecond marriage, her strangely unwatchable reality show, her weird performance at the school she showed up at, her willingness to share her clam-dip recipe with the world, her ambulance rides, replete with helicopter escort. Once again, gold standard. Brit gets 28 (see porno flick reference above, if you're wondering why she didn't get full marks).
Total points for the Louisiana Train-Wreck? A surprisingly underachieving 76.
Clearly the red-headed stepchild in this contest, underdog Nicole Richie has her work cut out for her. But having observed her as she essayed her bid for broadcast immortality in The Simple Life, there's one thing we know about Nicole: she never knows when to shut up. So, it's only fitting that we let her get her two cents in here. For hotness points, the perpetually overshadowed Nicole -- whether she's bloated or stick thin -- gets a scant 8 out of 20 (I mean, we couldn't score her higher than Britney. Her search engine performance doesn't warrant it, no matter the circumstances).
Given her behaviour in her TV series, you could be forgiven for wondering if Nicole isn't suffering from some sort of imbalance. But it seems not. The degree to which she's traumatized her poor adoptive father Lionel notwithstanding, overall, she doesn't seem to be completely nuts. She gets a base allotment of 10 for presumed issues just being a Hollywood brat, and I'll give her a couple of eating disorder points, but that's as much as I can do. Total crazy score? 12.
Nicole scores an anemic 6 on the global notoriety scale, and that only to the degree to which you can say "Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie" in a single breath in Japanese. Nicole is just not an international superstar (or whatever the others are).
She's also an underperformer in the scandalous behaviour realm. I'm just starting to feel sorry for Nicole, so I'll give her a pity 'pass' -- 15 points. Total score? 41 out of 100.
Queen of the tabs? Let's see, shall we? When we evaluating the paparazzi's wet dream against our ever-so-scientific sliding scale of salaciousness, we come up with the following results:
Hotness - well, Paris is considered a bit scrawny by some, and she's got that perpetual "daddy, give me some money look", which some find to be a turn-on, but then again, some don't. Still, skinniness hasn't been the cause of any models being whisked off the catwalk in a gale-force wind lately, so the public's increasing awareness of healthy body image notwithstanding, we'll have to allow it. 16 out of 20, with two points removed for her reliance on hair extensions. Final score, 14.
Is Paris crazy? Like a fox, I'd say. Her ditzy persona notwithstanding, no 'celebrity' works harder at remaining in the public eye. This is a girl who intentionally undergoes six to eight wardrobe changes a day. So all her shenanigans notwithstanding, she's just far too calculating to be truly bughouse without the aid of copious alcohol intake. 17 out of 30.
For global notoriety, Paris is clearly an overachiever. The object behind the definition of 'famous for being famous', she's not only globally recognizable, her fame is accompanied by the kind of hushed, dirty whispers that used to make Mr Wilson demand I share my secret with the rest of the class back in grade 5. Paris is notorious on a scale that eclipses even Ingrid Bergman and Liz Taylor in years past, and so she gets a coveted 18 out of 20 possible Primary Sources points.
When it comes to heiresses behaving badly, they don't come much more ill-behaved than Paris. Whether it's flashing her rodent at the press, blowing Rick Salomon on camera (and come to think of it, maybe we should rethink that crazy score) or getting fresh lodgings in the crowbar hotel, Paris is truly gifted when it comes to scandal. I'm really just waiting for what she'll come up with next to relieve the boredom of our poor, shock-poor existences. My assessment? A whopping 28. And if her crazy score were higher she could have easily reached a Comaneci-esque perfect score.
Paris' total? She's the one to beat so far with 77, a true paean to the ability of today's celebrities to get down on their knees to please their fans.
It's sad (and a little creepy) to observe that Lindsay was consideredmore attractive when she was playing a minor in Disney films. And her rather desparate sucking up to Marilyn Monroe in New York Magazine didn't help, even though she finally displayed her ample bosom, after teasing fans with nip slips and cleavage for so long. Look. It's cool she's a redhead (mostly), and it's even great that she's a little on the zaftig side from time to time. We can't populate the entire pantheon of celebrityhood with Lara Flynn Boyle clones. But she's not even 22 for gawd's sake, and she looks like 20 miles of bad road. Farrah Fawcett looks like she's had a more stress-free existence. Lindsay gets 13.
Lindsay is clearly reckless, addictive, unrepentant and alcholic. But crazy? Well....maybe a little. She's certainly a little bit troubled, and quite obviously more out of control than Alec Baldwin's ego. But her mental illness doesn't meet the sniff test. Based on the fact that she's a clear candidate for Celebrity Intervention, and so is obviously in some level of cerebral distress, and given who her mother is, I'll give her a 19 out of 30. If she were to act out in a more incomprehensible manner she could do better, but as bad as she behaves, she hasn't done anything I haven't seen during a typical Frosh week.
On the notoriety front, Lindsay is not all that well known outside of North America. And, like Britney, she's still reasonably well-regarded for the jaw-dropping fidelity of her performance in Freaky Friday (all kidding aside, Mean Girls wasn't bad). I have the utmost faith that she will continue to screw up and will therefore see he notoriety swell from its current flaccid state to a veritable behemoth of embarassment fit to shame even her monstrous stage mom, but for now I gotta give LiLo a 12 out of 30.
As for scandalousness, it's actually hard to find too much. A couple of poor man-choices, a flaunting of a house-arrest leg bracelet her or there, and a driving/drugs/alcohol infraction or two or three or four. Really, just another night on Sunset Boulevard. She's trying though, so I'll give her a passing score of 15, with two bonus points for posing topless. Final scandal tally? 17 out of 30, for an overall score of 61.
Okay, I gotta come out with it. These days, Posh looks like a gray alien from Zeta Reticuli. She looks like a popsicle stick with a couple of grapes glued on, and those impossibly tight sheath dresses and tottering high heels don't help matters. Still, she's photogenic....She gets a nominal 10.
I've seen absolutely zero evidence of dementia on the part of Posh, although there are times when those limpid deer-eyes start to look a little crazed. And, she gets a couple of mental illness points for her probable eating disorder. Overall, though, for a specimen of Hollywoodiana, she's remarkably sane (and as further evidence, I submit her rejection of Tom Cruise's Scientological overtures). Posh gets a 8 out of 30. She's got that bobble-head screwed on too straight.
In North America, it's not always easy to recognize the global impact of a celebrity like Posh. The Spice Girls were cataclysmically popular worldwide, so she gets quite a few global notoriety points just for her fame. It's offset by the fact that her notoriety is largely just legitimate fame, so Posh Spice rings in with a global notoriety score of just 12.
Scandalous behaviour? Jeez, I'm not even aware of any! Maybe...maybe...well, she got some headlines for saying she sleeps in the nude...Migod, that's weak! Chalk it up to British reserve. 5 out of 30.
Posh tallies up a less-than-spicy 35.
I precede this by saying that I'm pretty sure Jessica is over. It's quite likely that she jumped the shark with The Dukes of Hazzard, and she never should have left that nice Nick Lachey. But, let's see if her residual tabloidiness is enough to salvage some supermarket aisle placement for poor ol' Jess.
It's a good thing for Jessica that she has those boobs. That, her lustrous blonde hair, pearl-white teeth, long legs, and above-average singing voice is all she has going for her. That said, the amount of times her father has unbuttoned her blouse and shoved her in front of the camera creeps me out more than reading about Jeffrey Dahmer. Joe Simpson is a major creep, and that -- justly or unjustly -- bites into Jessica's hotness score. She'll still do okay with 16, though.
Craziness is not the same as dumb. And I'm pretty sure she's not as air-headed as she pretends. Still, she's been known to use the phrase "oh my gaw" in the belief that the Lord will not strike her dead since she's avoiding (ever so cleverly) committing blasphemy, so she gets some base points. And a couple more just for listening to her dad. Ever. 13 points.
Call it the result of her so-called Christianity, but Jessica is pretty much notoriety-free. She gets a couple of points for being viewed by many as the cause of the Dallas Cowboys' playoff collapse, and two more for her jiggly, content-free Dukes of Hazzard role, but mostly she fails in this category. Global notoriety score is 7.
For scandalous behaviour? See above. 7.
Jessica ends up with 43.
I like smart chicks. Katie comes off as smart (more on this later). And she's cute, even if she's no Angie Jolie. For hotness, she gets a lukewarm 10.
Craziness is a tough one. She's not manifested any public mental illness symptoms I'm aware of. Except one. And it's a big one, folks. She married freaking Tom Cruise, people. Just for that, I'm giving her a 25. Why? Because it's my column, and I can.
Her global notoriety is really reflected notoriety. But what a reflection it is. Her husband is the grand poohbah of sketchy religious thought, the high panjandrum of flim-flammery dressed up as pseudo-religion. Even as a pale reflection of the cult-powered notoriety of her whacked-out husband, Katie deserves a 14 out of 20.
All things being equal, Katie would seem like a soccer mom. She dresses modestly, she behaves with decorum in public. By rights, she should get about 2 out of 30 in our last category. But, as you know, she pulled out the scandal trump cards by serving as a skin-temperature test tube for Tom Cruise and L. Ron Hubbard's love child. Surely, that merits a 20 even in someone who is otherwise as scandalous as Jo from Supernanny. Besides, she showed her boobies in The Gift. 20 out of 30; final overall score, 69 (thanks, Tom!)
So, let's recap:
Posh Spice - 35/100
Nicole Richie - 41/100
Jessica Simpson - 43/100
Angelina Jolie - 51/100
Lindsay Lohan - 61/100
Katie Holmes - 69/100
Britney Spears - 76/100
Ding ding ding! We have a winner, folks! The new Primary Sources-endorsed Queen of the Scandal Sheets, the Totalitarian of the Tabloids, the Empress of the Enquirer is:
Paris Hilton - 77/100
(Hey, was there every really any doubt?)
Mike Walker, you're free to use this scientific, criteria-weighted approach in developing your slate of articles in the future. All I ask is that you refer to it as the Synthesis Scandal Sheet Scale.