For months, the tabloids have obsessed over the alleged on-again, off-again courtship of Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal, countering their coy denials with blurry paparazzi photos and stories like “Reese’s Rebound Joy” or “Jake’s Brokeback Heart.” On paper, this intrigue should be interesting: two eligible A-list stars possibly bunking together, one with an Oscar and ex-husband suspected of cheating, and the other the subject of countless gay rumors who is coincidentally — or not — best known for getting fake-freaky in a mountain tent with Heath Ledger. So why can’t we be arsed to care?
In short, because Reese and Jake are too perfect. They’re pretty. They seem well adjusted. They inspire fan-friendly nicknames, like Jeese, Witherhaal, or our favorite, Gyllenspoon. She’s a devoted mom, and he’s a loving uncle; neither is out there doing body shots with anyone on a Disney Channel show, there are no pictures of them with red-eye and exposed crotches floating around. And that’s precisely the problem. No matter how hard the tabloids woo us with tales of movie nights, commitment issues, or stolen kisses, there’s nothing legitimately juicy there to get us whispering around the watercooler.
Conversely, if something sounds crazy, we love debating whether it possibly has a ring of truth. Take the current rumors about professional bike-and blonde-rider Lance Armstrong randomly robbing Ashley Olsen’s cradle. We can’t stop discussing how creepy that is, and where John Stamos is going to punch Lance when he breaks Ashley’s frail heart. Drama and Schadenfreude are the backbone of celebrity gossip, and compared to Lance and Ashley, Gyllenspoon has nothing to keep us buzzing or make us feel better about ourselves. Just as two wrongs don’t make a right, two boring celebrities — however talented or A-list they might be — do not make us want to read, “Reese and Jake: They Like Going Outside!” in Star. They are a salad when we want a steak.
Ergo, the tabloids putting their eggs in the Gyllenspoon basket has been one long, national nap. And while that’s great for the Witherhaals if they’re legit — lack of public interest gives them some measure of privacy — it’s a disaster for the Hollywood Publicity Machine, which thrives on feeding us new relationships like candy to children, in the hope that we’ll invest in them and therefore their work. They can no longer assume this is true. With daily blogs battling the gossip rags to saturate the market with ever-wilder scoops, readers have become savvier, and thereby more suspicious. What looks real must be fake, and everyone has something to hide or something to peddle. Indeed, upon learning Jake and Reese were an item, we yawned and assumed they just had a movie to promote. Bingo: Their up-and-down coupling spanned the premiere and promotion of Rendition — which, conveniently mirroring our investment in them as an item, tanked.
All of which means these people may have to resume selling projects the old-fashioned way — actually promoting them — and leave the gossipmongers to sniff out some real Eau de Scandale. Because seriously, it would take Jake punching Ryan Phillippe in the face at Butter at dawn, and then maybe Frenching him, to get us to scamper out and see Rendition. Two nice people holding hands isn’t going to cut it. —The Fug Girls