A world-famous entertainer announced that she and her boyfriend were splitting up in one of the saddest tweets I've ever read: "We have decided to go our separate ways. Please respect our privacy."
It was quite a shock. Not that they broke up -- that was inevitable. After all, she's a celebrity and they'd been together almost six months. Do the math. Besides, three months ago she was telling the hosts of the morning and afternoon TV shows that she had finally found her soul mate and they'd be together until the end of time, which is the way famous people say, "It's not over, but it's on life support." The end of time turned out to be last Tuesday.
Why it didn't work out is anybody's guess; why does anyone fall out of love? Because they need a special pass to get on the tour bus? Because she's a workaholic with no time for a relationship? Did he think she became famous by being lazy? Did he think she was going to ignore the fans who pay her bills just to pay attention to him? Was it because her manager and the musicians treated him like a roadie? Was it because she was sleeping with other people?
No, I wasn't shocked that they broke up. I was shocked that she thought anyone would respect her privacy. Grow up, girlfriend.
Adding "please respect our privacy" in a tweet you're sending to 4 million people is really self-defeating. It's like sending out a press release with "Please don't print this" at the bottom. Instead of making them back off, it sends the paparazzi and entertainment TV shows into a feeding frenzy.
A good celebrity breakup is tabloid gold; it's practically the only thing they want to talk about. It pushes celebrities that have gained weight, gotten plastic surgery and gone shopping without makeup to the back pages. The only thing that could be better than a celebrity breakup is a royal pregnancy or a royal wedding, and how often do those happen? But a good celebrity breakup? There's one a week. And the more breakups a star has, the more they'll get written about.
Wait! Do you think it's possible that an artist would break up with her boyfriend just to sell a few CDs? It's probably just a coincidence that her latest recording is about to be released and that she's about to go on tour. But isn't that what happened right before she released her last record? And the one before that? Surely no one would break up with the love of her life just to sell a few recordings. Recordings with song titles like "Fall in a Hole and Die," "Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out," "You Were The Thorn in My Bed of Roses" and "Your Lawyer Asked for My Autograph." Wouldn't it be cynical to think this is all part of a well-planned publicity stunt, as if breaking up with your boyfriend is a business decision, not a romantic one?
There was a time when celebrities tried to keep their images squeaky-clean. They wanted publicity, but only the good kind: stories about them posing for pictures with fans, going to awards shows and hosting charity events. "Bad" publicity -- a divorce, an affair, a drug bust -- might end your career.
Those days went out with spats and top hats. Misbehaving in public has become a career move: a way to stand out from the clutter of people who only have talent going for them. Sober? Monogamous? Drug-free? No rap sheet? No self-respecting talent agent would touch you with a stick. Your career's fading? Make a scene on an airplane. Get thrown out of a nightclub. Forget you have a loaded gun in your pants. Start an ugly screaming match with your fiance at a crowded restaurant, then listen to that phone start ringing. "Can you come to our town to sing and break up with someone?" "Can you be in our next movie and get arrested a week before it opens? We'll make it worth your while."
Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.