Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:
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So I'm writing for the celebrity/entertainment section of Babble now. When they invited me to write for Famecrawler I figured it would be a piece of cake. I had been writing for the pregnancy section for so long and, well, you can only write about vaginas and mucus plugs and postpartum depression for so long without becoming a little depressed yourself. And, what with my longrunning yet inexplicable addiction to trashy celeb mags and my idiot savant-like knowledge of ridiculous celebrity facts, writing celeb news seemed like a home run for me.

It's not.

Although I've been writing over there since February, I haven't linked you guys over yet because I don't feel like I'm doing a very good job. What I mean is, I don't want to write the usual snark about celebrities and I really don't want to be an asshole about celebrity children. Snarky celebrity commentary is all the rage, you know? And I hate it. In the same way my stomach drops when I stumble across some blog or hate site bashing me, I'd be devastated to cause that feeling within someone else if some celebrity actually googled themselves or whatever and found some horrible crap I wrote about them.

Anyway, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject. How to write about celebrities in an interesting way without being a dickhead. Who/what kinds of things are you interested in reading about, if anything? I don't want to write about how, like, so totally amazing celebs are because they're just people too and are already treated like royalty in our society, but I don't want to trash them either. But do we like to hear non-snarky things about celebs? Because I'm just as guilty as the next person in loving a good old-fashioned celeb drama. I ate up every bit of information during the Angie steals Brad from Jen era. Was and always will be a Team Aniston girl. Is snarky the only way to go to garner interest? We love to tear down our celebs, makes us feel better about ourselves, I guess. And you have to have some angle or ain't nobody going to be reading your stuff and then what's the point?

Hell, I don't know. I thought this gig would be right up my alley. I'm still not sure if it's my thing but figured I'd give it the ol' college try. Which, I didn't really try to do much in college other than drop out, so I don't know if that analogy applies here, but well, now I'm even losing myself...

The first piece I'm going to link you to was something that occurred to me after Serge quit smoking. It's been more than three months you guys! Serge quit because he doesn't want Henry and Violet to ever remember him smoking. He'd smoke in public, but not at home. Then I saw all these pictures of actresses smoking around their kids, but the minute they see the paparazzi they toss their cigarettes. The opposite. They don't mind smoking in front of their children but God forbid strangers (the public) see them smoke. Weird, right? Plus I was just surprised by the sheer number of celebs who smoke. At one point it occurred to me that a list of the celebrity moms who DON'T smoke might be easier to compile.

So check it out over on Famecrawler: Celebrity Moms Who Smoke: From Gwyneth Paltrow to Katie Holmes and J-Lo, These Secret Smokers Will Shock You.

Reader Comments (17)

I like the smoking post! I think it would be interesting if you did more "meta-analyses" on various themes of famous parenting like this. I agree that the internet probably already has too many people snarking on celebrities (and also too many people straight up fawning over celebrities), so a more analytical eye could add a new perspective. From the gossip media I consume (mostly through links from Jezebel) I think there's room for a parenting perspective that isn't overly nasty or "they're just like us!"

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCait

I think it's interesting when celebrities comment on political issues and the reaction they get. Also - how some celebrities really do use their fame for good - Sean Penn is making a difference in Haiti and his son has been very involved. How many stars say they won't let their kids watch their movies/tv shows. I woud love your analysis of the 3 month rule - Both Tori Spelling and Snooki caught significant flack for "lying" about their pregnancy because they didn't want to confirm before 3 months. Or privacy of celebrity kids- Busy Phillips got into it with TMZ on twitter because camera man cursed at her for trying to protect Michelle Williams. I think Busy Phillips and tori spelling may actually tweet you back on the topic. Will Smith and Jada Pickett Smith have done some interesting interviews on balancing their succes and their kids. Maybe a piece on Toddler and Tiaras and how some of the families are trying to build a brand. Celebrity comments on hot button parent issues: spanking, breast feeding, organic make your own baby food.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter@Heresananswer

I like where you were going with the smoking post, but I think you should have taken it a little farther. I gave up looking through the slideshow because almost every caption was the same: Who knows if she still smokes? Only she knows the truth, etc. And you make a good point about who people are comfortable smoking in front of, celebrities vs. regular folk, but...what do you think about what that means? You kind of left your best point hanging.

I think you were holding back on your commentary, afraid of leaning too far one way or the other. That makes for boring articles.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPenny

@Penny - You are absolutely right. I was holding back for the reason you say. Still trying to find my voice, you know? I feel like anything interesting I have to say about celebs tends toward the snarky so I ignore my natural inclination and end up writing boring crap. Trying to figure out how to be interesting yet not an asshole and am having a hard time finding the balance.

Also, I guess I kept saying "who knows if they still smoke?" because I really didn't want to label someone a smoker who may have worked their ass off to quit, but again, your point is well-taken.

I really appreciate the feedback, it's helping me form some sort of idea about how I want to write celeb news.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheGirlWho

maybe write about what 'celeb news' makes you wonder, like, here are 20 moms who are supposedly smokers, wonder if some/all of them smoke 90 a day and are viscious without their smokes, or if the pictures were taken one time, in a moment of weakness,etc, etc. Your views on how we can automatically get caught up in other peoples/sites opinions on celebs would be interesting - get us all thinking a bit more about how we love to mindlessly consume this stuff, and what other people might think of us if they viewed us the same way....maybe...

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdg

Perhaps interesting things celebs do besides acting or singing or being celebs? Who can forget Geena Davis as an Olympic caliber archer?

Or maybe the celebs who have gone back to school after becoming famous?

Or celebs who went to school for something completely different like the sciences or engineering?

Or celebs whose parents are famous for something besides acting like Uma Thurman's father?

Celebs who are married to people outside the industry and what those spouses do?

Just some ideas...

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline

Monica, what it you wrote to celebs (about issues affecting all of us) and requested a reply back. It would be interesting to me, to see what kind of responses you got back. It could be pretty funny to see the serious vs. uninformative form letter type responses. I like the ideas put forth by your other readers also! Nice effort on the smoking article.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterniobe19

I am really glad you are asking our opinions about your Famecrawler blog.

I didn't like the pictures of Michelle WIlliams and her daughter because it was clear that Michelle was trying to shield her daughter from the paparazzi. I think by posting about how much her daughter resembles Heath Ledger it is only encouraging the paparazzi to hound them.

Also, the post on Sarah Jessica Parker's son having long hair. It was clear that she was walking him to school and having a private moment. Unless the pictures of celebrities' children are taken at a public event (like a movie premiere), I think they should be left alone.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRiveraP

Not proud of this, but I like the snark. I read the trashy mags, and that's what I want to read online. I don't like any snarkiness about celebs' kids though, only celebs themselves.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill

One thing that always bothered me about celebrities and their babies is how much some of them tote their kids around like accessories. I mean I know they're going to be followed by paparazzi, but if you're pretty sure that there'll be pictures taken of you, why do you take all your kids with you? Which brings me to another point... do celebrity parents not care that their kids are thrown in the lime light without their choosing? It's fine if they're stalked because they chose that career, but their kids didn't. There are a few celebrity parents like Natalie Portman for instance who seems to really value her child's privacy and you hardly see the kid. When I can spot Shiloh or Mason in a magazine because I've seen their picture so often, I just find that sad.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSleeping Mom

i wasn't even sure if i would ever comment on one of your posts again... but, here i am...
interesting dilemma...
a few years ago, i got to read this vanity fair interview with brad pitt... it got (un?)expectedly deep, and it covered various topics - from architecture to religion and philosophy, personal experience and, of course, film... the article allowed me to analyze/interpret/understand the actor's persona more than any picture taken by an unscrupulous self-proclaimed paparazzi or any sensational story from a "reliable" source who spilled it to an obnoxious "reporter".
i would look for the depth... there is too much shallowness in this world...

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

@fahrenheit - Yes, I read a similar thing about Brad Pitt and really dug it. But then again, I would read anything written about Brad Pitt. Also, why would you not comment again?

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheGirlWho

I'd like to help but I can't
I don't give a rats ass about celebrities.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentershuga

I think maybe your "block" is the block that I have about reading things like celebrity baby blogs.

I think when a celebrity puts themselves out there and earns a living from being a celebrity (Kardashians for example) then they enter into an agreement with the public. We feel comfortable peeking. We feel like we have a right to an opinion. Some celebrities live life much more on the down low, or aren't as famous, and we don't know much about their lives.

When it comes to parenting - at some point in the last five years, celeb mags seem to have almost fetishised babies. They -are- written about as though they're accessories - no matter how famous the celebrity - and I'm not okay with that.

I think that writing about celebrities - who have entered into a profession where they're willing to deal with fame/infamy is one thing. I think writing about their kids, or how they parent, is another. Those babies didn't sign up to be written about - kids everywhere have tantrums in toy stores - when Suri Cruise does it's headline news and to what end?

I love your writing - I love your blog, You're deciding to share your parenting journey and that's why your writing rocks. It's honest. These celebs haven't made that choice and maybe that's why writing about celebs as parents isn't coming as naturally to you. Bet your writing would flow like merlot if you actually interviewed them and wrote about it feeling absolutely comfortable that they were comfortable being held up to scrutiny in that part of their lives.

Just my two cents - I'll read whatever you write but this area is always uncomfortable for me to read about because I always think about the kids who didn't choose for Mommy to be an A-lister.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCurly

Interesting stuff and makes me feel a little less guilty about my 'social' smoking habit before I got preggers. I understand your dilemma with writing about this topic. I love me some Us Mag and People and yet I am aware that people glorify celebs and love to cut them down and their lives are so far removed from mine. You are a great writer, Monica and I am sure that you will figure out your voice on this.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterstella

yeah, the interest around brad pitt is even weirder when it comes from a guy who is on the hetero side of the fence... :-)

why would i not comment again?
hmmm... we are both too busy and too committed to get into the details behind all that... :-)

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit


I hate those articles.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

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