"Now that J&J.com is over, did we learn anything from the experiment?" asks College Humor founder and deep thinker Ricky Van Veen, referring to the recent demise of Ricky's buddy Jakob Lodwick and Star Editor at Large Julia Allison's website and relationship. "Yes — that the gossip industry works on a model that can be disrupted. The gossip industry is built on second hand information, information embargoes, secret sources, tips, etc. But what if the people who are being gossiped about bypass that inaccurate mechanism and just make the information public in real time? ... That kind of universal transparency would put Page Six out of business." Right, if Lindsay Lohan was like "It's 10 on Sunday, I got a manicure today, I just relapsed and snorted a fistful of coke" at lindsaylohan.blogspot.com, Page Six would have nothing to write about. Ricky is so incredibly off-base. Except maybe, in a twisted way, he's also partly right?
Here's the thing: the gossip reported in Page Six, on Pagesix.com, on TMZ, in the Daily News' gossip columns, and in every celebrity weekly, has never been lamer or weaker than it is right now. Take it from me—I've spent the past year skimming those news outlets daily. And, okay, obviously I'm insanely burnt out, but I think that as celebrity-focused coverage has mushroomed and our standards for what constitutes "celebrity" have become incredibly broad—come on, we're supposed to care about Hulk Hogan's divorce?—whatever was once juicy or appealing about paying attention to "gossip" has, for many people, disappeared entirely.
One of the reasons gossip has become boring is that many self-styled stars are letting it all hang out just as much, if not more, than Jakob and Julia. You want "universal transparency," Ricky? Look no further than Britney Spears' underpants, or Amy Winehouse's shirt.
But then there's also the fact that "second hand information, information embargoes, secret sources, tips, etc." have never been as fundamental to the "gossip industry" as publicists, managers, deliberate leaks, strategic appearances, and press releases. And by controlling the dissemination of information about themselves 100%, Jakob and Julia played the game in the most old-fashioned way possible.
So Ricky's right: something to do with the kind of thing Jakob and Julia have done is eventually going to put "Page Six" and its ilk out of business. But Jakob and Julia haven't wrested the means of production out of the evil gossip overlords' hands. They've only hastened the demise of the whole enterprise by adding their own voices to an already out-of-control cacophony.
I don't think I'm the only one who's so overwhelmed by the whole shebang that I just can't bring myself to care about any of it anymore.