Can Staying Out of the Gossip Mags Hurt You in Hollywood?

While waiting in the grocery line I have always noticed that there are certain celebrities that frequent the publicity magazines; the Kardashians, Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Brad and Angelina. Some of these people (I’m looking at you Kim) use publicity to their advantage. The stories that are told in these magazines keep them relevant, as Hortense Powdermaker explains in Hollywood, The Dream Factory “Synthetic glamour has become essential for their continued existence” (267). This is especially relevant to a family that makes a living displaying their lives to millions on a weekly reality TV show. It almost seems as if some of these celebrities have willingly acted crazy in order to stay relevant in the social scene, “others seem actually to believe the publicity circulated about them and to accept the built-up synthetic personality as their real one” (266). Are we getting the true Kim Kardashian, or are her actions purely driven by her need to be in the spotlight? 

On the other hand there is Matt Damon. I rarely see Matt Damon in Ok! magazine or People. He likes to keep his private life private. Even though he rarely is, actually almost never is in the gossip rags he still is incredibly successful. He has a net worth of $75 million and has been in films such as True Grit (2010), Elysium (2013), Interstellar (2015) along with film series such as Bourne and the Oceans movies. He is making it big, yet I always forget that he is around. But the thing is he is using that to his advantage. According to Elizabeth Day, “he’s worked out that the appearance of averageness affords the greatest opportunity for privacy and creative space” (TheGuardian). Because nobody knows much about him he can get away with playing a variety of different roles. He can be an action star in Elysium and Liberace’s love interest all in the same year. I don’t think Tom Cruise could do that. While Powdermaker may think that, “synthetic glamour has become essential for their continued existence” (267), that is definitely not the case when it comes to Matt Damon, which is rare. We forget about stars when they aren’t in the news or the spotlight from time to time, but yet Matt Damon is still recognizable. When you think about it, it is sad that some stars have be gossiped about to stay relevant to audiences even if the news/gossip about them may ruin their range of characters they are able to play. In a recent interview with The Guardian Matt Damon commented that, “I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly,” he continues. “But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.” While that may be true for some actors, like Rupert Everett who acknowledged he took a hit for his sexuality, other actors like Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Bomer have had a lot of success even though they are open about their sexuality. So what is the balance? Why do some actors/actresses take a hit for sharing personal details while others don’t? Why do some actors/actresses take a hit for not sharing enough personal details while others don’t?


Powdermaker, Hortense. Hollywood, the Dream Factory; an Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-makers. Boston: Little, Brown, 1950. Print.

Day, Emily. “Matt Damon: ‘You’re a better actor the less people know about you'”. The Guardian. 27 September 2015. Online. 

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