Obsessed With Celeb Romance

The star system emerged as new information about film actors and actresses could be produced for the public, usually centering on the private lives of these players. According to “The Star” by Richard deCordova, in 1913-1920’s there was a shift in the discourse surrounding film actors that was aimed at illuminating aspects of actors and actresses’ lives beyond the screen. Cinema fans became increasingly fascinated with the day to day actions of the faces in “filmdom”. deCordova writes that journalistic discourse around actors began to emphasize family life, marriage, and relationships. A huge publicity apparatus became centered around the love lives of actors and actresses. If you’ve seen the 1952 classic film, “Singing In The Rain“, this idea is made perfectly clear with on-screen romance publicized as a real life romance between fictional silent stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont. The opening of the movie shows Lockwood and Lamont entering Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the premiere of a new movie as an energetic gossip columnist, Dora Bailey, fawns over the two stars. Dora Bailey gets right to the point and asks Lockwood and Lamont what their fans are truly interested in: their romantic status.

The discourse surrounding early film stars really focuses on relationships, courtship, and marriage. While perusing some 1920 issues of Photoplay magazine, I came across a couple articles that discussed the love life of cinema stars. The first article, “The Pickford-Fairbanks Wooing” is in a way parallel to the Lockwood and Lamont example. The article discusses the relationship and romance between to on-screen giants translating to their romance in real life. The article is even previewed with the subtitle, “A story of filmdom’s greatest real life romance”. Another article, ““What Do You Think of These Husbands?”, took a look at the relationship and marriage between Director Harry Beaumont and actress Hazel Daly. It was clear that the public was interested in how Beaumont managed to separate his directorial work from becoming a jealous husband, while directing his wife through romantic scenes.

As early as the 1920’s, the public developed a fascination with the love lives of stars. It is clear from the plethora of gossip columns surrounding Taylor Swift’s latest boy toy or the heated Aniston-Pitt-Jolie love triangle that we are still very much interested in the romantic lives of celebrities. It is also clear that celeb romances continue to foster publicity. Jessica Biel’s recent marriage to Justin Timberlake and decision to take his last name has garnered huge publicity for both Biel and Timberlake’s careers. A star’s life beyond the screen was and remains to be an area of pure fascination for cinema fans.

2 thoughts on “Obsessed With Celeb Romance

  1. I definitely agree with you that fans have become fascinated with stars’ lives beyond the screen! But it seems to me that back in the 1920s, the press sought to CONVINCE the audience about the positive aspects of the star’s lives (essentially their “moral healthfulness”) in order to promote film production. However, nowadays, while we still focus on relationships and life beyond the screen, it feels as though the press intentionally tries to expose the dark side of the stars. Back then, I think there was a sort of reverence towards the stars and their different identities. I wonder if our whole attitude is changing towards the stars because rather than promoting their normal, healthy lifestyle, now gossip columns try to dwell and expand on their rootlessness and moral laxity. It seems like we WANT to focus on the negatives of stardom rather than the positives. So, is our treatment of stars today similar to how theatrical actors were treated back in the 1920s?

  2. I think there are many reasons why we are so obsessed. 1) we aspire stars’ lifestyle so we naturally want to have an insight on their lives. we want to become them, we want their life, whether its their looks, clothes, cars or fame. 2) furthermore, we want to get closer to them, we want to relate and we want to feel better about ourselves. by knowing about their love lives and their love problems, we feel as if we know the stars on a personally level. for example, when we see news about brad pitt and jennifer aniston breaking up due to affair with angelina jolie, we might just feel a bit better about our own cheating boyfriend. if someone as famous and attractive as aniston gets cheated on, then that makes our problem seem less heart-breaking. maybe this is why we have been obsessed since the beginning of stars.

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