The Media-Savvy Mistress: The Newest Way To Become A Celebrity Overnight


After reading a ton of news about Michelle “Bombshell” McGee in our Dirt Bag gossip roundup this morning, several of our commenters complained that McGee was getting exactly what she wanted. And, naturally, they’re correct:

Let’s just get this out of the way: we are currently living in an extended WWE plot line, where our celebrities can take the form of either the hero or the heel and receive the same amount of media coverage, money, and public obsession, regardless of their status as a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” With Tiger Woods and Jesse James, we’ve seen the rise of the mistress as a celebrity spoiler, someone who is aware of the power of the media and the public’s obsession with celebrity, someone who can raise her own profile by ripping apart the public’s long-held perception of someone else’s. No one on earth should be surprised by Michelle McGee: the lines between entertainment, celebrity, and “reality” have long been blurred, and the notion of marriage-busting mistress as potential career-launching opportunity, by the looks of things, will soon become as common as trying to get one’s own spinoff dating show on VH1.

But Michelle McGee, villain as she is, did not “ruin” James’ marriage on her own: she didn’t send out some weird Siren-esque song that only Jesse James (and perhaps his dog, Cinnabun, who kept running away) could hear to seduce him into being a cheater; he participated just as much as she did. It doesn’t matter if McGee, as she claims, didn’t know James was married. JAMES knew he was married, and he slept with her anyway. For an entire year.

Still, it is McGee who is the target of the public’s ire: though Jessica argued that Jesse James was the “most hated man in America,” one look at any of the comments under any internet post regarding McGee tells you that she is sopping up most of the Haterade in this scandal, with her looks, her tattoos, her rumored racism, her opportunism, her attitude (her Twitter handle being “EvilCunt” and all) and seeming lack of remorse about it all bringing forth attacks on everything from her looks to her character.

But attacking McGee isn’t going to hurt her in any way: her role has already been defined, and she is laughing all the way to the bank. She’s not the first to play this game, and she most certainly won’t be the last, because as a society, we’re fascinated when the narratives we create about famous strangers are upset. We are so invested in the culture of celebrity that we’re willing to follow even the seediest, most depressing turns in the story, because their lives have become our lives, and we’re able to transfer our own life experiences onto these removed but familiar faces.

McGee’s 15 minutes will over soon enough (ask Jaimie Grubbs or Rachel Uchitel), but surely there will be someone else to take her place. And perhaps instead of making sweeping generalizations regarding sex workers (which is happening all-too-frequently in Jesse James related threads, btw), women with tattoos (same), mistresses, “fame whores”, or whatever else you want to throw McGee’s way, we should consider our own complicity (I’m writing this article!) in finding the sordid details of strangers’ sex lives so fascinating.

Or maybe we should stop paying so much attention to the mistresses and pay attention to the real “home wreckers”: the men who actively made the choice to cheat on their wives and were arrogant enough to think they could get away with it.

Earlier: Jesse James Is The Most Hated Man In America

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