Now that she's got yet another reality series, VH1's The Price of Beauty, Jessica Simpson proves once again that America loves a reformed person better than somebody who never sinned in the first place. Though she's got genuine talent as a singer and ditzy actress, that's not really why she's a star. What distinguishes her from all the other dumb blonds is how very exceptionally, publicly dumb she is.
She's an ongoing crime against common sense, a wriggly indictment of Texas education. What makes her a beauty expert to millions of Americans is her chronic slippage from impossible glamour into a plumper, lesser, flawed and human beauty folks can relate to. And what makes her a success is her frequent record of spectacular failure in so many arenas. When you type her name into Google, Google helpfully offers the following search suggestions to go with her name: "Shoes, fat, weight gain, wardrobe malfunction." If she were as perfect as she sometimes looks, nobody would Google her.
So we hereby honor her with a Film.com Fever Chart, which documents the lifetime highs and lows of our favorite celebrities. If you think we've left out any highs (or lows), sound off loud in the comments section below!
Born to a Southern Baptist youth minister and a Sunday school teacher, Jessica sings like the angel she resembles. Temperature: 98.7 degrees
In fifth grade, scores 160 on her IQ test. According to her mom. (What was that commandment about bearing false witness?) Temperature: 98.8 degrees
Wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. But goes to space camp and decides she doesn't like the food. Never becomes an astronaut, but shows strong promise as a space cadet. Temperature: 95.4 degrees
At 12, makes it almost all the way to the winner's circle on Disney's New Mickey Mouse Club but blanks out and blows the last audition. So Mouseketeers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera get famous without her. Temperature: 55 degrees
Goes into Christian music instead. Wows the church kids belting out an "Amazing Grace" to die for, and "True Love Waits," about sexual abstinence. Wears a ring signifying her promise to her daddy, and the big daddy in heaven, to stay pure (until she meets a pop singer at a Teen People function a few years later). Temperature: 98.8 degrees
Auditions for Mariah Carey Svengali Tommy Mottola. Goes mainstream in the wake of Britney and Christina. Turns out it was good to let them go first. Fabulous first hit "I Wanna Love You Forever" goes to Number 3, album Sweet Kisses makes her name. Temperature: 120 degrees
Fights insecurity by taping notes on her mirror reading, "You're beautiful in this skin." Has a confidence-boosting epiphany: "I realized I didn't have to compete with anybody and people liked me for me. Mess-ups and all." Temperature: 110 degrees
Lives out an 18-year-old's wildest dreams: Meets boy of her dreams, fellow second-tier talent Nick Lachey, sings a duet with him, causes teens all over the nation to slow dance and share their mad passion. Temperature: 130 degrees
Tries to work up the courage to talk to Celine Dion (her main influence besides Mariah Carey, whose name the semi-literate Jessica spells "Carrey") at 2000 Billboard Awards, chickens out. "I could go pfffffft. No one could ever hear from me again." Temperature: 103 degrees
Splits her pants onstage for the fourth time, performs Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" and confesses to audience, "My pants just split in half and I'm wearing my mother's jeans." Crowd only cheers more after learning this. Temperature: 104 degrees
Drives Ashton Kutcher to distraction as a virginal California blonde temptress on TV cult hit That '70s Show. Does a dandy job playing dumb, pouring water on her body in slow motion, and having a sexy three-girl pillow fight in a boy's fantasy sequence. Temperature: 120 degrees
Starting with Irresistible, her albums start selling steadily less, as air leaks from the hot-air balloon of teen pop. Temperature: 109 degrees
Who cares about teen pop? Newlyweds, Jessica's reality show with hubby Lachey, hits big, driven by her astounding displays of papier-mache brain syndrome. Claims she doesn't eat buffalo wings out of loyalty to buffaloes. Says, "Is this chicken what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says Chicken By the Sea." Actually, that's Chicken OF the Sea. When she tries to explain, "My confusion there was that I hate fish," she fails to dispel the impression of dumbness. But her music never sells better than when she's making a fool of herself. Temperature: 140 degrees
Beats Britney for the role of Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. Claims she has no butt, and must do exercises to fill out Daisy's cutoffs. Temperature: 170 degrees
Critics loathe her movie. Fans make it Number One. At awards show, Dave Grohl has to stand behind her, ogling her jutting butt, saying "Yeah!" Jessica's daddy overhears and reproves him. But understands the reaction: "She's got double D's! You can't cover those suckers up!" Temperature: 175 degrees
In Touch readers vote Jessica's the hair they'd most like to have -- more than Jennifer Aniston's or Jessica Alba's or Angelina Jolie's. Temperature: 170 degrees
Christian group Members of the Resistance demand an apology from Jessica for her MTV video "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" because she wears a bikini while washing a car. ""It's sad to see her whore herself out like this. It's disappointing to have Jessica join the ranks of the singing strippers." Others aren't disappointed at all. "Judge me not," retorts Jessica, alluding to Matthew 1:7. "That's why I didn't end up going into the Christian music industry. I think that if they're really good Christians the judgment wouldn't be there." Temperature: 176 degrees
Humiliatingly, Jessica forgets the lyrics to "9 to 5" at a 2006 Dolly Parton tribute, mutters, "Dolly, that made me so nervous," flees stage. Fans decide there's such a thing as too dumb. Even Reese Witherspoon of Legally Blonde fame singles Jessica out for ridicule. Temperature: 100 degrees
The creator of GI Joe celebrates Christmas 2006 with a line of Almighty Heroes Bible action figures, including Deborah the Warrior, who suspiciously resembles Jessica Simpson. Temperature: 120 degrees
Meets President Bush's Secretary of the Interior, thinks that means he's an interior decorator, tells him, "I love what you've done to the place." Temperature: 95 degrees
Her marriage goes to hell. Within days, Nick is dating again. "It hurt me," she confesses. Her movies start to sell worse. Blonde Ambition bombs even in Texas (though weirdly it's Number One in Ukraine). Major Movie Star goes straight to DVD. Dates Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, gets blamed for jinxing his career. President Bush suggests sending her to the Democratic Convention. Temperature: 45 degrees
Dolly Parton, a Christian who makes Christianity look good, doesn't care about Jessica's forgetting her lyrics, and records a country album with her, earning Jessica country cred. "Honestly, that moment of failure really ended up being one of the best moments in my career because I got to create this relationship with Dolly and become even more inspired to believe in my talent," marvels Jessica. Temperature: 120 degrees
Frisky wind whips up her skirt onstage, revealing a derriere bereft of underwear. Was this what she was talking about when she vowed, "I think you're going to see a new side of Jessica Simpson?" People don't get nearly as excited as they once did about Britney's pantylessness. Temperature: 99 degrees
Shocks the nation by gaining weight. At Florida's Kiss Country Chili Cookout, appears in jeans that don't look quite like Daisy Duke's. "Honest to God, her appearance couldn't have been any more shocking unless she had grown glow in the dark tentacles," says gossip Tyler Durden. Temperature: 32 degrees
Even this calamity proves to be a boon. The publicity helps inspire her new reality show, wherein she roams the globe investigating ideas of beauty. "She is a woman who can set trends and create firestorms with a single photo," says VH1 veep Jeff Olde. "I don't get the rail thing," says Jessica. She may not be the rail thing, but she's the real thing. Temperature: 110 degrees
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