Lainey Gossip’s Faculty of Celebrity Studies conference last week was unlike any lecture I’ve sat in on, to say little of my extensive resume of all the most bizarre humanities classes that Dawson College has to offer. The conference room on the second floor of the Apollo restaurant (that gorgeous period house looking place behind the cathedral on Ste Cats) served the purpose of school house and we all filed into the place ready to be schooled.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Lainey’s luxe celebrity-watch website, you may have already had a taste of her spritely writing in the description paragraphs on the side of a few of your favourite flavours of Vitamin Water. As official sponsor of Lainey’s Canadian tour, bottles of the stuff lined every surface. I felt like a kid in a candy store faced with a bar flush with all a girls favourite spirits as well as trendy pink flavoured water for dividends.
After plying her audience with a veritable rainbow of cocktails from the wet Vitamin Water bar, Lainey had herself a room full of loose-lipped ladies eager to talk some shit.
I sat down with Lainey while we were still soaking up pink drinks pre-presentation to ask her – delicately – what she’s hoping her pupils will glean from her syllabus.
“My goal with these events is to really demonstrate that you can talk shit and gossip, but you can do it in a way that’s cerebral and insightful. My argument is that it’s just a reflection of who we are collectively; morally, socially and individually.
I’m tired of people rolling their eyes thinking that gossip is not important, because in fact, it’s quite informative and it tells us a lot about ourselves. So when you examine it that way, gossip is anthropology, it’s a study of our humanity.
I hope that when people leave here, they will have an argument: they won’t have to apologize for being gossips.”
Lainey argues that since one cannot take and objective position on the actions of the stars, kvetching about them releases a real sample of one’s own personality. As for the woman herself, Lainey has a razor edge that adds a sparkle to her petite feminine stature, and a sailor’s mouth she saves for when she’s not reporting on CTV’s etalk. Her sass and brazen bitchitude skips off her animated sing-song voice the same way it bubbles in her blog posts. She talks with her hands a lot too.
When asked what she thinks makes a great celebrity for better or worse, Lainey concedes that it comes down a matter of better or worse taste. “To me though, what makes a proper celebrity is still having something special, that Jennifer Laurence quality, where there’s an “It” factor. However I would say that my definition isn’t that of the rest of the population, given the popularity of the Kardashians or the Jersey Shore.”
Lainey’s website is the brainchild of the e-mail newsletter she began sending out in 2004, which was what she describes as “an editorialized report on the week’s Hollywood gossip” that she sent to a few friends, who then forwarded it on to their friends until the subscription list went through the ceiling and crashed her system. Nearly a decade and nearly 70,000 twitter followers later, miss Lainey Lui is a bona fide guru of gossip.
“The first celebrities I was interested in were Chinese celebrities because I was raised in a Chinese home and watched Chinese soap operas when I was eight and nine, the same way young kids idolize Taylor Swift.
I just never knew it could be a career until I was between jobs and I started this email. In that era (she says like she’s my mom), the only entertainment news we got was from very mainstream outlets that presented all these stories in a very clean, very uncritical way.”
Lainey then became part of the early group of entertainment bloggers because on the internet no one can tell you how nice to be. “People were tired of the sanitized version they were getting and it created this appetite for more real, snarky reporting.”
She explained to me that this in turn created a standard of “real” that has since been mutated into the recent boom of “reality TV” where even in their day to day lives, people are putting on straight up circus performances for the ratings. “You’re getting really meta there, but it’s an astute point! The mirror of that reality in Hollywood is that the face that these people give you is fake, it’s just an image that they’re trying to play.”
“People were so shocked that [Reese] behaved this way because the image she puts out is of this southern belle, this ‘America’s sweetheart’ when in reality…she’s just such a fucking cunt.
It offends everyone’s sensibility when someone is superior.”
This drama-bomb was touched upon later in the evening’s conference. The shameful mug shot that made the rounds along with this dirt showed Witherspoon channeling her best Virgin Mother with her eyes cast own beneath uncharacteristic brown hair. It was the consensus of the class that Reese will likely be returning to her legally blonde roots – so to speak – in order to resuscitate that wholesome, Sweet Home Alabama image.
We can expect to see this blogger keeping tabs on Hollywood right into the next era of communication. It’s obvious to all of us in the game putting words on websites that today’s craze for instant sharing has broken down the walls of publicists and censorship that used to protect the stars. Now it’s only ten zillion times easier for them to send whatever insanity can only come to the delicate minds of the fabulously famous. Being able to read each tweet in real time is what makes watching their falls and their triumphs so enthralling and is sure to keep Lainey’s blog busy!