What cha reading?

The question, often meant to be a harmless conversation starter, sometimes carries risk. “What cha reading?” when asked of an English Lit major in college can be a tense status shuffle of a question. Because what you’re reading literally can tell the other person what class you’re reading for, where you’re at in the program… lots of different things.

And then you have me. Who will tell you, flat out, the name of the romance or fantasy novel that I was reading for fun at the time. Didn’t really care if someone decided to look down their nose at me… and some did. Some asked me, in a whisper, if I had read another book by the same author/in the same genre/you get the picture. Once in a while, someone would ask me why, and I’d reply… “Well, if I’m gonna be a writer, I want to make sure I write in a genre that makes money.”

But here’s my real dirty little reading secret…. I read tabloids.

Yup.

Yes, I know alot of it is made up, speculation, what have you.

I was hooked as a teenager I saw a tabloid with the headline “King Tut dies in plane crash! Pictures inside!” Really? Huh. Never even thought of that. They had the greatest, most fantastical stories… it thrilled my little writer’s heart. Of course, I knew it was fiction, but still!

That love morphed into celebrity tabloids. I actually gave them up for a while, because I believed (and still do) that they were complicit in driving her around the bend into crazy town. (BTW— way to step up and take care of your girl, Pappa Spears! Can you adopt Lindsey?).

I know that not everything I read is true in the tabloids. And yet judgements are made. About people I know next to nothing about. I know their job. I know the persona they choose to show to the public. I know that sometimes the public needs to turn their backs and let them get the help they need… or time to pull themselves back together.

So. That being said, according to all the gossip sites Denise Richards has taken custody (at least temporarily) of her ex-husbands twin sons by another woman. Why? Because they are her daughters’ half brothers. Because she is a mom with a huge heart. According to all the sites, the both the boys’ parents (Charlie Sheen and Brook Miller) are all good with it.

So. We’ve gone from fantastical, to harmful, to uplifting. While I believe, whole heartedly, that there is a line that should not be crossed by reporters… they’re going to keep crossing them when we click onto those stories, when we buy those rags. Do I think my refusal to buy for a while impacted their economy? Nope. I did what I could, and I’m happy with that.

But what if we all said… There’s a line. You don’t need to cross it. Flex your fiction muscles and give me some more photos of King Tut driving an airplane. And remember… Always, always remember…. We the public need to say ‘I CALL BULL” when they cross the line.

Fiction should be recognizable as fiction, after all.

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