The Celebrity Tabloids Enter Bizarro-World Amid Coronavirus

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    Timothy A. Clary/AFP/GettyIn early 2002, as Star Magazine transitioned from a monthly magazine to a photo-heavy weekly, the editors gathered for their daily meeting, eyed all the images fresh from the wire, and zeroed in on a picture of Drew Barrymore picking up a coin. “Look at Drew Barrymore picking up a penny,” the new top editor Bonnie Fuller said, according to former Star reporter Kate Lee. “It’s like, stars, they’re just like us.” When the next issue went to print, it featured a new kind of photo montage, one that highlighted—not movie premieres or nights on the town—but pictures of actors leaving fast food franchises. “Russell Crowe: Trying desperately to crack the Colonel’s recipe at KFC in New York,” the text bubble read. “David Hasselhoff: Devouring a hot dog—with another one at his feet.” The new section, “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!,” changed the nature of celebrity imagery in America’s pop-cultural diet. It created a new visual vocabulary for the entertainment industry, a crucial boon to the notion that celebrities, despite their mansions and lifestyle brands, nevertheless led somewhat normal lives. Where paparazzi once scouted for exclusives and high-end events, they could now sell snapshots of the mundane. Stars, they walk their dogs! They take public transportation! They love amusement parks! If that logic held, the genre might be flourishing now, 18 years later, as the COVID-19 outbreak forces both actors and everyone else to perform certain shared behaviors—cover their faces, stock up on toilet paper, wash their hands with Monk-like intensity. Instead, the section has entered a state of suspended animation. There is no mention of the novel coronavirus on Us Weekly’s formerly active feed—the closest they come is a Feb. 26 photo of actress Zoey Deutch in a mask, but without context (“They Worry About Germs!,” the caption reads). The most recent photo is nearly a month old. In it, A Quiet Place Part II’s Cillian Murphy tosses a crumpled piece of paper into an NYC garbage bin, looking as solemn and forlorn as the section feels: “They put trash in its place!”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

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