Our culture has a habit of putting celebrities on a pedestal. We sensationalize their every move and, as a result, wind up with superhuman figures to idolize and fear. But really, they’re just people — like any of us. They’re prone to ordinary hobbies, like lounging about and going for a dip. And they're susceptible to everyday weaknesses, like dropping six figures on Gucci merchandise. And that's why, to us, Buzz Bissinger — the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, former CBS sports radio host, author of the eponymous book that inspired the film and TV series Friday Night Lights, and self-professed recovering shopaholic — is just an average joe. The acclaimed writer penned a candid article for the forthcoming issue of GQ, opening up to fans about his egregiously expensive indulgence (he recalls a single instance that landed him $638,413 in the hole) and his decision to seek rehabilitation.
In all sincerity, Bissinger's quest for self-betterment is laudable. But his addiction is the stuff only Hollywood can dream up. Sure, there are shopping addicts among the hoi polloi, but most of 'em have to settle for cheap knockoffs or the barter system... Gucci-themed night outings aren't really a rock bottom many are capable of hitting.
When it comes to the spotlit community, in fact, all addictions, compulsions, and even fears seem more glamorous. A few years back, when Argo was but a gleam of an idea, a pre-esteemed Ben Affleck had quite a proclivity for gambling, losing thousands upon thousands of dollars in high society poker games (and yet Matt Damon was still the better choice for Rounders). We're not talking about your thrice divorced uncle's seedy hold 'em gatherings in the storage unit he "inherited" from the elderly neighbor nobody has seen in a while. The folk that made up Affleck's games are Hollywood elites, industry moguls! Three-piece suit-wearing cigar toters who almost bankrupt the man in his State of Play days.
But what's cooler than big name card games or designer shopping sprees? Sex. Sex is cool, which logically makes sex addicts the coolest. As such, David Duchovny — who not only plays a sufferer of satyriasis week to week on Showtime's Californication, but has actually confessed to being one in real life — is the freakin' Fonz. Who also, come to think of it, seemed to have some kind of pansexuality disorder.
It's easy to look like a winner when you're buying fancy clothes, scoring chips with royal flushes, or succumbing to your Mulderistic desires. But only celebrities can maintain this urbanity when fleeing in a misguided panic. Take David Boreanaz: the Buffy and Angel vet can't even traverse to the frozen foods section of his local supermarket. Why? Because he's dreadfully afraid of chickens. Now, an ordinary person would earn head shakes of shame and a few Twitter blocks if he or she were to speak candidly about this degree of alektorophobia. But with a star stature like Boreanaz's (and really, who ranks higher in this day and age?), we're all made to rethink our stance on the so-called innocent farm birds. They're natural cannibals, you know.
Chickens be damned. You'll likely rearrange your entire domicile upon hearing the domestic aversions certain celebs uphold: mirrors (Pamela Anderson hates them), houseplants (Christina Ricci detests them), antique furniture (Billy Bob Thornton is disgusted by it). To the yard sale with ye!
While we may resent their ability to get away with anything, perhaps celebrity idolatry is a good thing: the next time you're ruing your own psychological maladies, fear not. Just wait for some actor or model to open up about his or her similar eccentricity. And then all you've got to do is hop on that bandwagon. "Sure, I'm psychotically addicted to tomato paste," you'll say proudly. "But didn't you hear? So is Skeet Ulrich." And you're gold.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Alexandra Wyman/WireImage]