"Our descendants may look at us and say, 'God, these were the most gullible people who ever lived.'"

Celebrities: they're in ads! That's because celebrities tend to sell stuff to people, according to the New York Times, which broke this story wide open with an epic piece in yesterday's paper. There are three clear points that you, the educated consumer, must understand: Companies are run by starry-eyed celebrity hound white guys who will pay any price to hang out with a cool rapper or have their umbrella endorsed by Rihanna; many celebrities are themselves sheep, convinced that their endorsement deal is a meaningful attempt by a corporation to plumb the depths of their soul (it's really not! surprisingly); and finally, all of this is the fault of dirty gossip websites just like this one!

Half of the celebrities in the story, like Jay-Z and Puffy, demand that companies give them partial ownership and allow them to design products, and other requests that seem excessive. You can't blame them for asking, though. More nilla celebrities, however, seem way too nice to play this game well:

"It's flattering that companies think of you and they want to work with you," [Ellen DeGeneres] says, adding that she is working with American Express because she liked earlier ads the company did with Jerry Seinfeld.

Ha, sure! And what do you say, borderline Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey?

"I wear my cologne all of the time," says Mr. Dempsey, whose fragrance will be introduced by Avon Products in November. "This is a whole different experience and a real education for me, and it has been something that I've been involved with every step of the way."

Hopefully these celebrities are just lying, rather than actually being that naive. The story notes that people don't actually trust celebrities, but they buy their products anyhow. The reason? YOUR INSATIABLE APPETITE:

First has been the emergence of Web sites and magazines that chronicle the mundane, daily activities of stars on a 24/7 basis. A voracious public eager to peek at Hollywood celebrities shopping for shoes and buying coffee wanted, in turn, to buy those shoes and drink that coffee themselves.

There's also plenty of info on Rihanna's umbrella endorsements! But the most honest paragraph in the whole story is this one:

"The reality is people want a piece of something they can't be," says Eli Portnoy, a branding strategist. "They live vicariously through the products and services that those celebrities are tied to. Years from now, our descendants may look at us and say, ‘God, these were the most gullible people who ever lived.' "

[NYT]