Sinner’s Corner

Geez 19 Sinner’s Corner

Sinner: Julie Polter, Washington, D.C.

Secret Indulgence: I have a celebrity gossip habit. On news Web sites I scroll past politics, wars and rumors of wars, plagues, floods (on a bad day, Google News reads like a Twitter feed from an end-times prophet) to click in on “entertainment.”

Moral Gymnastics: I’m not an obsessive fan of anyone. I don’t hang out in celebrity chat rooms or watch paparazzi videos on YouTube. I don’t spend money on gossip magazines or tell-all books. I just happen to have a knack for absorbing a lot of information about the rich and vapid – from magazine covers and those quick, furtive skims of online stories, and okay, I admit it, “entertainment news” TV. Knowing the shallow news of the day makes me feel more connected to other people, at least those who also have a taste for froth. The TMZ celebrity gossip news staff serve as a sort of combination judge, jury, cheering squad and Greek chorus in response to paparazzi-fueled stories, often showing a surprising mix of judgment and mercy. There is an ongoing conversation about values on TMZ – the values of famous people and the values of the people watching them. See, it’s like Sunday school, only with snarky comments and video clips of beautiful people who, like the rest of us, sometimes behave beautifully, and sometimes are very ugly indeed.

Penance: Julie, I do have to give you props for framing your debauchery as a special “knack.” It almost makes it sound like a spiritual gift, doesn’t it? Pure genius, sister. When you threw in “connected to other people,” “mercy” and “values,” I almost wanted to join your weird religion. Though your spin is dizzying in its ingenuity, it also sort of exposes the addiction for what it really is: disconnected from real relationships, inciting judgment and celebrating corrupt values. I think you knew this, though, didn’t you, dear one?

For your penance, unplug, get face to face with actual live human beings and shower them with unmerited unconditional acceptance, love, mercy and affection. Seriously, just pour it on. Splash a little on yourself, too, while you’re at it. The way this whole thing with the media works, I suspect you need it, too.

Margot Starbuck, Confessions Editor

Send your confession to Margot at Whether you regularly give motorists the finger when cycling, prefer Guns N’ Roses to the musicians at church, or get lured in by the smell of deep-fried indulgence whenever you’re near McDonald’s, absolution is at hand.

Issue 19

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 19, Fall 2010, The Wild issue.

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Issue 19, Fall 2010

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