The hunger for celebrity gossip appears unslakable; there's a reason paparazzi and gossip-mongers can always find employment in Los Angeles. Even in periods of economic depression, in fact perhaps especially in periods of economic depression, the public demands stories about celebrity shenanigans and it particularly wants stories about celebrities gone bad. Celebrities losing control. It consumes, with relish, stories about celebrity breakdowns because many people seem to enjoy a sense of "how the mighty have fallen" over their morning gossip rag.
Working in Hollywood is intensely stressful, which can tend to add to the risks of experiencing mental illness. It is a highly pressured, fast-paced environment, especially for women, who have to fight twice as hard to attain half the popularity and following of their male peers, while remaining "strong" so they can be the subject of flattering profiles rather than lurid tabloid covers. Drug and alcohol abuse tend to be high in this environment as well; I've attended enough Hollywood parties as a non-drinker to know that you experience tremendous pressure to imbibe even when you have good reasons not to do so. While neither drug nor alcohol abuse is necessarily a cause of mental illness, both can cause erratic behavior and they may trigger latent mental illness, especially in a patient who is held under the looking glass instead of being given adequate support.
Oprah's very last episode was a love letter to her fans; just her on her stage talking to us, her viewers. Much of it was retread: of her rise to unprecedented success and fame, and of the life lessons Oprah has learned throughout the years. But she did touch on something that hasn't always been front and center when discussing the extreme success of her long-running show: that she is not her best without the energy of the audience.
Oprah and Babs talk about how tough it is to have kids as a working woman—or in Oprah's case, the unambiguous lack of regret in regards to opting out. Skip to 7:30 in the video, where the discussion about having kids starts. Transcript after the jump.
Celebrities who have the "misfortune" of gaining a few pounds usually find pictures of themselves looking "fat" on the cover of a tabloid rag at some point. Americans, at least, seem to derive pleasure from this, as if gaining weight is some kind of comeuppance for celebrities, knocking them off their pedestal and showing the world they aren't so perfect after all. The attitude is that getting fat is a punishment for vanity, or just something generally bad that we can wish on beautiful thin people we feel envious of or don't like for some reason. Getting fat ranks up there with botched plastic surgery as far as reasons to ridicule celebrities endlessly. We want them to be perfect, and when they're proven to be just like you and me, fat and all, our lives are turned upside down. Well, some people's lives.