So what do we get instead? A bunch of faux-lebrity men—the guys whose names occupy precious space in our brains thanks to the brilliant work of the World Wide Interweb. They’re everywhere. There’s a whole subgenre of MTV reality stars. For starters, Nick Lachey, who weathered the humiliation of watching his then-wife Jessica Simpson’s career skyrocket past his own whilst filming the popular Newlyweds and survived the eventual schadenfreude of their inevitable divorce, only to become famous for … let’s see … moving on in love to also-inexplicably-famous Vanessa Minnillo. When sexy hot tub pictures start circulating online, you know you’ve arrived! Then there’s superdog Jason Wahler of Laguna Beach and The Hills. His pouty lips and spiky hair are ever-present on red carpets and buzzy parties. He was a spectacle when he sat front row last year at Olympus Fashion Week, where a scrum of photographers stomped past a hard-working (and unrecognized) Law & Order actor to watch him make out with Lauren “L.C.” Conrad (also famous for the above-mentioned shows). He even got the ultimate in star treatment: discussing his struggle with sobriety with People magazine. Meanwhile, the news last May of the engagement of Mr. Wahler’s castmates Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag was heralded by Us Weekly as an exclusive.
MTV is also (partly) responsible for giving us Pete Wentz and Joel Madden, seemingly interchangeable in an eyeliner/tattoo/emo-boy haze considering we’ve never heard their music (being that we’re over the age of 14). There was a time when we liked Brit addict Pete Doherty’s music, but who can remember the Libertines now when the ubiquitous image of Mr. Doherty with on-again/off-again girlfriend Kate Moss involves him wearing a dirty hat and big enough bags under his eyes to go to the moon and back. Zach Braff—he’s kinda funny on Scrubs (and some of us really liked Garden State!) but he also kinda seems (thanks in part to the hype—bad hype) like a self-involved creep. Is he the best we can come up with for our modern-day womanizer? Warren Beatty, can’t you do something?
Meanwhile, when Bruce Jenner was Decathlon-ing his way to Olympic gold in 1976, do you think his greatest wish was for his son, Brody, to grow up and star on a show called The Princes of Malibu, and get press coverage for being linked with Kristin Cavallari, Nicole Richie, Lauren Conrad (again!) and Haylie Duff? D.J. AM … really? We don’t understand why we know he’s a sneaker-head, enough to get a cameo as himself on Entourage. It’s enough to make us nostalgic for the days of Kid Rock.
Still, there is one refreshing twist in this crazy fame game: the reversal of the role of Hollywoodish ingénue. In the earlier days of cinema it was the big, hunky, male stars that got the names of those pretty starlets clinging to their arms into gossip columns. These days it seems the opposite. Would we really care about this Joel Madden fellow—he’s in a band called Good Charlotte, by the way—if he didn’t date tween-kitten Hilary Duff before reportedly impregnating Nicole Richie (whose origins of fame are almost as mystifying)? We know that Mr. Wentz belongs to some band called Fall Out Boy (quick, name what instrument he plays), and that Gavin Rossdale was the frontman for 90’s one-or-two-hit-wonder Bush, and that the terrifyingly good-looking Josh Duhamel decorates the screen nicely when he works. But it’s doubtful they’d be household names if they didn’t have famous chicks to cling to (Ashlee Simpson, Gwen Stefani, and Fergie). Who the f*%k is Cisco Adler anyway, besides the make-out buddy of Mischa Barton? Are we doomed to a world where Brandon Davis, famous for, as far as we can tell, his family money and branding Lindsay Lohan “firecrotch,” makes headlines? And quite frankly, isn’t Brad Pitt—the golden standard for blazing movie star—beginning to be thought of (a little) as Angelina’s bitch?
WE’VE ALL BEEN TOLD AD NAUSEUM about the perils of aging for leading ladies. But look what’s happening, too, with the men: Jack Nicholson didn’t get his break in Easy Rider until he was 32. Paul Newman was 36 when The Hustler premiered. Clint Eastwood, a man whose 70’s have been his most creative decade, was 28-years-old when he first got a chance to appear in the 1958 TV show Rawhide. These actors had a chance to learn their craft and get beaten up a bit in life before landing in the spotlight. But, as Johnny Drama pointed out on Sunday night’s Entourage, the insatiable need to stay young is no longer just a woman’s issue. There’s no time to let an actor develop his craft—his talent!—before slapping him on a magazine cover and declaring him the next big thing.
Poor Shia LaBeouf (his last name translates, quite literally, as ‘the meat’). The feeding frenzy won’t die down anytime soon; he’s got Indiana Jones Four still to work on. But where is there to go but down from there? “I want to do something really dark after Indy,” he told Vanity Fair. “Like a Raging Bull of hip-hop”.
Maybe Orlando can costar?