One of my favorite stand-up comedians remains Jim Gaffigan, whose takes on a number of common modern day topics are smart and sublimely funny without being R-rated. One of Gaffigan's best bits is a nearly 10-minute riff on McDonald's, which winds into a rant about everyone's personal "McDonald's" - "You may have never set foot in McDonald's, but you have your own McDonald's - maybe instead of buying a Big Mac you read US Weekly. Hey, that's still McDonald's, it's just served up a little different. It's all McDonald's, McDonald's of the soul. Momentary pleasure, followed by incredible guilt, eventually leading to cancer."
Gaffigan's discussion of McD's is not only a beautifully funny summary of the fast food chain, but a great poke at how the US Weekly, TMZ, Star, National Enquirer culture is taking the cult of celebrity that used to be so rich and classy and turning into what is effectively soulless fast food. Gaffigan: "Really, it's all McDonald's out there, right? Scarlett Johansson got a haircut, why do I give a ----? 'Cause it's McDonald's, and it feels good going down."
The rise of US Weekly and Star were one thing, but with the rise of TMZ and other celebrity websites, celeb watching has become a more moment-to-moment activity. There's a real hatred by celebrities towards the paparazzi, who have become admittedly too aggressive, likely because demand from an increasing amount of media outlets (before, you had the Enquirer, now you have the "old school" magazines, plus what seem like hundreds of popular celebrity blogs) have raised prices and demand for that one revealing picture. Everyone has their mobile phones, which are convenient for snapping pictures of anything resembling celebrities and reading about anyone resembling one at a moment's notice.
While the photographers should not go over-the-top, celebrities never address the "odd" coincidence that photographers have an almost supernatural ability to find celebrities while they are doing the most mundane things. You have the Kardshians, who are more than happy to strike a pose on one hand and talk about how awful the paparazzi have gotten on the other.
While the photographers shouldn't cross lines, how much are they also a "convenient enemy" for some celebrities? There is some fault for the culture of celebrity turning into "Super Size Me"-style fast food that there doesn't seem to be any shortage of demand for, but how many celebrities these days regard any publicity as good publicity? What % of TMZ articles are about C/D-level celebrities you've never heard of, or the Kardashians? How much has "reality" programming and the desire for any kind of press added to the issue?
Celebrity photographer (the classy kind) Kevin Mazur has gotten together a number of his famous friends (Jennifer Aniston, Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Lopez, Kid Rock and other people from the '90's) to discuss the situation in "Sellebrity", a documentary that talks a lot about the levels that the paparazzi have gone to, with various stories about celebrities having to effectively learn stealth in order to avoid the press. Still, it doesn't really delve much into what could possibly be done about the situation. Could there be a point where this starts to be a legal issue and if so, where do you draw the line?
"Sellebrity" is slick and easily digestible. While it's unfortunate that some of the celebrities have had their privacy invaded to an increasing degree, again, it becomes okay, we do we do about it, where do we draw the line? Instead, the documentary points a fair amount of fingers and spends a fair amount of time pointing fingers at those who consume the tabloid fare. I didn't mind watching it, but in a way, I almost feel like Gaffigan's comparing what the culture of celebrity has turned into to McDonalds is a better summary of the sad state of affairs and only took a few minutes.
The worst - and possibly funniest - thing I can probably say about "Sellebrity" is that I can absolutely imagine it playing on E!, which is 1000% (and that extra zero is not a mistake) the US Weekly of cable television.
Video: The documentary is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. There is a mix of different sources, but the presentation remained mostly above expectations. No pixelation, edge enhancement or other issues were noted.
Audio: Basic, dialogue-driven 2.0 audio.
Extras: Short featurette on the history of photography.
Final Thoughts: "Sellebrity" makes a few decent points, but largely focuses on famous people sharing their takes on how bad paparazzi have become. We can certainly feel sorry for them with the lengths that photographers have gone, but after 90 minutes, there's not really much more to take away from it - there's a lot of stories here and some questions, but little in the way of possible answers. I'll go with a skip it, or watch it on cable - which is where I happened upon it previously.
Jim Gaffigan (see jimgaffigan.com for more information): "McDonalds":