Rose Richard:People who really need ‘People’

One of my offices subscribes to People magazine for our waiting clients. In my off time, I peruse the pages of this magazine. I say peruse because People was not really meant for reading.

These are rough times. We have impending war in Iraq, nuclear doom in North Korea and a sagging economy. It’s good that we have a respectable publication to tell us whether or not Justin Timberlake is sad that he and Britney broke up. These are important issues, folks, because if you don’t get the facts just right, you will look stupid.

Take me for instance. I look stupid a lot. Just the other day, I was deriding Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom I cannot stand. “God, her face looks fat. Why don’t they show the rest of her body? Probably because she’s getting so damn fat.” My friends, who watch more television than I, sneered. “Duh, Rose, she’s pregnant. It’s a baby, not fat.” Yeah, well, I hope it grows into fat. Can you hear me now?

I’ve learned all sorts of things since I started reading People. Did you know there was a second, older Osbourne daughter? She doesn’t matter because she’s not punk, and she didn’t record an “edgy” album. But she was a maid of honor for Mom at Ozzy and Sharon’s renewal of vows.

Speaking of vow renewals, these seem to be quite popular amongst Hollywood couples lately. After staying married for two whole years, you really should throw yourself a big party. What an achievement! Older, more established couples can have a lavish vow renewal ceremony to relive their youth, or just to get a little attention.

Another interesting facet of People magazine is the fashion reports. Columnists regularly snark on someone’s Golden Globe outfit, forgetting the fact that Todd Oldham would never, ever offer to design a dress especially for them. The columnists at People can probably only afford the Todd Oldham that’s sold at Target anyway. And it’s easy to say that Reese Witherspoon looked like shit when you don’t see her socially.

People magazine is not without intellectual merit. Okay, maybe if you’re in eighth grade. They have journalists who write hard-hitting two-page articles about sexy forensic toxicologists who poison their husbands. Because crime is only interesting when someone good-looking is involved.

They also have social-interest stories that involve the bare minimum of facts. Because facts are ugly and sometimes make you cry. And if you’re reading People, no, really reading People, you aren’t really interested in facts. Well, not true ones anyway.

Of course, every worthwhile publication has interesting and entertaining filler. People has a crossword, and no answer exceeds seven spaces. Because if it’s more than seven spaces, it’s a big word, and no serious reader of People has a vocabulary and/or attention span that big. However, my favorite section is the one where it tells who got arrested and/or divorced. I am a big fan of human folly, and there is nothing like human folly that becomes a huge public spectacle. And People is all about public spectacle.

At any rate, I’ve been scanning the magazine avidly, because I really, really care about Ben and J. Lo. I’m, like, totally anxious to see when their wedding date is, and if Matt Damon is going to attend. This event has become so important to me that I am fashioning my future engagement and wedding on it. Like, nothing less than four carats of pink diamond and a custom-made Vera Wang.