Hello, my name is Selina, and I love gossip.
All kinds of gossip. Work gossip. Friend gossip. Family gossip. And yes… celebrity gossip. Last weekend, it was my privilege to meet the Queen of Canadian Gossip, Lainey Lui, at a signing for her book, . Ostensibly, we were all there to get our copy of the book signed and meet Lainey herself. She is, after all, a woman who has charted her own course in the Canadian media landscape, who works harder than the CEOs of many Fortune 500 companies, and who has become a kind of empire unto herself, with her , her co-hosting gigs on The Social and eTalk (Canada’s answers to The View and Access Hollywood, respectively), the charitable events she promotes, the junkets and premieres she attends, the authors she interviews, etc, etc. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also written a book!
And not just any book. Listen to the Squawking Chicken is her mother’s story, the story of a woman who spoke up at a time and in a culture that valued silence and docility in its women. Of a woman who to this day takes no prisoners, who is unafraid to say what she thinks, tell it to you like it is, and dole out some tough love when necessary. Much like Lainey herself, who started a gossip blog that is now read in dozens of countries, parlayed that into guest spots on entertainment news shows, and now has a seat on a daily talk show.
What I love about her is that she is unapologetic about what she does. She doesn’t think ‘entertainment news’ or ‘gossip’ are dirty words, that only bottom-feeders like that kind of thing. She believes in journalistic integrity, and thinks we should demand more of it from our entertainment journalists. She believes in promoting feminism and equality and multiculturalism, and doesn’t think that conflicts with having segments on fashion and beauty on her blog – she is the first one to slam the MiniVan Majority for their archaic views of what a women should be and can do. She is a voracious reader, and is just as likely to champion the latest literary masterpiece as she is the ‘new adult’ novels she reads for fun. I guarantee you her take on almost every gossip story of the day is more thoughtful, more nuanced, and more honest than the blow-smoke-up-your-ass pieces you read on any other site. She doesn’t just give you the gossip, she is straight-up about the inner-workings of the publicity machines and studio machinations behind the major stories of the day. She is almost academic in her deconstruction of what’s going on in entertainment news, so it’s no wonder that she keeps championing a hypothetical Faculty of Celebrity Studies, in which we would daily gather to dissect and analyze this strange phenomenon that has engulfed us all, the cult of celebrity.
So when I heard she was coming to town, I and other gossip-mongers in the area knew we couldn’t miss our chance. We were not disappointed. There was discussion of Ben Affleck and George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, and Lainey’s favorite, Gwyneth Paltrow. Blind items were confirmed. One of the longest-held questions I had about a certain superhero-playing actor’s sexuality was answered. It was but a sampling – an amuse bouche, one might say – of the multi-course meal that her annual Smut Soirees must be. Once a year, in Toronto, fans of her blog gather together to drink wine and gossip, and there the tea really gets spilled. I am not ashamed to say that it’s my ambition to attend one of these events one day.
Because, like it or not, we all traffic in gossip. It’s how you hear about that job opening, that friend who needs help, that political scandal, that company’s corruption, that shocking incident involving your favorite sports star/talk show host/actor/singer/governor/religious leader. What is history but gossip threaded together by dates and facts? That whole thing about being written by the victors means it’s basically a legit form of propaganda. And what’s propaganda at its heart? Gossip. To say you aren’t interested in gossip is to admit to being either a) a liar, or b) a sociopath. Whether the fact that Julius Caesar and Mark Antony both banged Cleopatra, Bill Clinton got tangled up by an intern in a blue dress, BP committed environmental atrocities, or James Franco perved on a 17-year-old fan turns your crank, it’s all a symptom of the same affliction. A species-wide addiction to gossip.
If you don’t believe me, spare a few minutes to listen to Lainey herself break it down for you in a TEDx talk she gave last year:
So, friends, go forth and gossip! Do your part for what really is the oldest profession in the world!