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Dec. 31 2009 - 8:21 pm | 75 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

My 2009 Celebrity Walk of Shame — Part I

Michael Jackson, cropped from :Image:Michael J...

Image via Wikipedia

a.k.a. I Follow Celebrity News — Get Me Out of Here!

Over the past few weeks we’ve all been inundated with the traditional year-end lists — the best-ofs, worst-ofs, cutest, saddest, weirdest, deadest, insert-adjective-here-est collections commemmorating the past 12 months. But looking back at 2009, my mind drifts to all of the celebrity stories that I cannot believe I followed. A year ago you couldn’t have paid me to admit¬† — not to a priest, my mother-in-law, or an officer of the court — that I would have spent time paying attention to some of this stuff. But there’s no better time than New Year’s Eve to shed what little pride you may have left. And since one of my resolutions for 2010 is to work the word schadenfreude into as many sentences as humanly possible, let’s kick off the new year with a look back at my very own 2009 Celebrity Walk of Shame.

Celebrity deaths
I am indeed one of those people who gets a little bit misty during the “In Memoriam” portion of the Academy Awards, and I always find it shocking when someone I’ve come to know through their public life takes their leave — particularly when they’re young.

I didn’t write about the death of actress Brittany Murphy beyond the initial announcement, because despite the drip-drip-drip of detail, speculation over what happened and the outpouring of celebrity memorial tweets (take a minute to get your head around how stupid that is), there didn’t seem to be all that much to add. I thought she was talented, I really liked a lot of her work, and if even half the stories about her difficulties are true, that’s tremendously sad. It was also mortifying to see how quickly the knives came out — a by-product of the blogosphere, I understand, but utterly distasteful nonetheless. (Says the woman who makes fun of Jon Gosselin — I get the irony.)

The death of a celebrity is an enormously curious thing. We watch celebs day in and day out in their “official” life, and we see them acting “just like us” in endless tabloid photos and videos. We can’t help but feel that we know them — even though nothing could be further from the truth. But while both the tributes and the takedowns can get extraordinarily over the top, it’s also a chance to honor both life and work.

Brittany Murphy (1977-2009)

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)

Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)

Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

Tiger Woods
I’ve said before that I’m totally in the camp that thinks golf is a good walk spoiled, and before Thanksgiving when I thought of Tiger Woods I thought, “Rich guy, better than anyone in the world at hitting a golf ball, beautiful wife, wears pleated pants, zzzzzzzz….”¬† But he did turn out to be a ball of excitement, didn’t he? The sheer number of women, the brazen stupidity of his actions and the actual consequences that seem to have accompanied them have been breathtaking, not to mention rare. The mind reels at both the frightful spectacle it is and how much worse it could have been.

john-mayer-bJohn Mayer
He managed to keep his name in the news with his defense of James Cameron on his blog. Before that, he announced he was taking a break from dating (dude, the women of the world thank you) — but that was after his charming “I should be having sex with more girls” quote in the New York Times, the Details cover story and the twittering. If the music were interesting, he’d totally get a pass, but playing a halfway decent version of “Human Nature” during the Michael Jackson tribute doesn’t make up for the sins of “Your Body is a Wonderland.” I give him props for hanging with Dave Chapelle, though. Otherwise, the shirt says it all.


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    About Me

    I've always been obsessed with pop culture and celebrity, even as a political reporter by day at washingtonpost.com and ABC News. Even after leaving journalism for media relations and consulting (Need help with press releases, brochures, annual reports, or media strategy? E-mail me -- lisa.celebjungleATgmail.com.), I pretended to be mildly appalled by the antics of the beautiful and famous -- then gobbled up tabloids and all the gossip I could find. To date, I've preserved my amateur status as a celebrity news analyst so I could compete in the gossip Olympics, but now I've decided to go pro. As a recent transplant to Los Angeles, or Celebrity Ground Zero, I'm learning to live among them as they roam unfettered over the landscape -- while praying that a behind-the-wheel Lindsay Lohan stays out of my neighborhood.

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    Contributor Since: March 2009
    Location:Los Angeles, Calif. (or Mars, depending on the day)