The Daily Mail's website is simultaneously the most glorious and the most profoundly haunting place on the Internet. It is the entire spectrum of human morality writ small. Articles ("articles") about redneck yacht clubs sidle up next to feverishly graphic retellings of rape-centric true-crime stories; diatribes on the dangers of fat-shaming sit next to pieces examining how fat someone has gotten; an entire column was once devoted to Madonna's "droopy ears." Seeing as we are all melting trash heaps living atop a melting trash heap, it's not surprising that the Daily Mail's website exists and continues to thrive. What is surprising is that its readers do.
As a tenuously alive member of this readership — for my JOB!! Just kidding, am trash heap — I am proud to share my favorite brand of Daily Mail lunacy: In any given piece about any given celebrity (the definition gets looser by the fractional second), at least three paragraphs will be devoted to breathless, wildly redundant descriptions of what he or she is wearing and, occasionally, doing. It's all boring and blow-jobby, except for when it isn't, which is to say, when it is written with equal reverence about a celebrity wearing some iteration of "dirty pajama" and doing some iteration of "nothing" — when the writer, existentially dessicated and devoid of real content, must turn a Tuesday afternoon hospital visit into a 1,000-word, search-engine-optimized masterpiece.
It is here, at the intersection of gas-station attire and desperation, that the Daily Mail becomes surreal, dadaist art. Each sentence is its own one-way trip into the Uncanny Valley. Each recklessly wrought phrase is a peek at humanity's darkest, deepest fear: What will happen when we run out of things to say? Given names and pronouns are tossed aside in favor of lengthy, nonsensical qualifiers ("The E! black sheep," "the strip club visitor"). Colors — including black — are discussed only in relation to each other ("darker blue," "powder blue," "sky blue"). Pieces of paper and coffee cups become "accessories." Normal human behaviors — using a cell phone, walking — are rendered in riveting and increasingly manic anthropological terms, always with a distinct undertone of suspicion ("The star also had on a black and grey jacket and, oddly, was holding the blue sports bra and white tank she had on earlier, suggesting she had taken the items off when at the shop").
Below, I've curated a few of the site's most compelling, describing-normal-things-ad-absurdum masterworks and interspersed them with a few of my own sentences aping the Daily Mail's signature style. See if you can decipher which are real and which are indicative of me going slowly, horribly insane.
The celebrity: Julianne Hough
What she is actually doing: Leaving the gym.
What she is actually wearing: Gym clothes.
The Daily Mail's take:
"The two-time champion dancer rolled up her see-through white tank top while holding her jacket in one hand and pieces of paper in the other."
"The Footloose actress wore a thin white tank top over a powder blue sports bra. Darker blue leggings were rolled down to expose her stomach. The blonde also had on pink and black Under Armour sneakers. The sister of Derek Hough was holding a jacket and a piece of paper, and appeared to have a cell phone up to her mouth."
"Tuck Everlasting! The Dancing With the Stars star dancer seductively pulled her sweaty top up, tucked it slowly into her sports bra, leaned down, tied her shoe, stood back up, smiled, then dissolved into the ether, the cells of her super-taut body transforming back into the raw elements — oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus — from whence they came."
"Covered up: The Grease: Live star was later seen with tousled hair, wearing her black and grey jacket over her leggings, and carrying her wallet and keys in her left hand while holding what appears to be a Papyrus bag in her other hand."
"The blonde bombshell's Papyrus bag appeared to be holding either a stack of extremely functional stationery or a stack of guns, which Hough would later use to either write a letter to her congressman or murder a barnful of lambs to make her get-fit secret: lamb soup."
"The Dirty Grandpa actress texted on her phone while holding her sky blue sports bra and white tank top she wore earlier with what appears to be a bottle of hair cream."
"Julianne was later seen with her hair down as she left a store."
"The star also had on a black and grey jacket and, oddly, was holding the blue sports bra and white tank she had on earlier, suggesting she had taken the items off when in the shop. She also appeared to be texting on her cellphone and holding a bottle of lotion."
"The lotion was likely for Hough's famously slimming lamb soup, which calls for six cups of lotion and 12 lambs! Hough told Us Weekly last year that she learned the recipe from her fitness idol, Michelle Obama."
The celebrities: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian
What they are actually doing: Going to the airport.
What they are actually wearing: Black t-shirts and black sweatpants.
The Daily Mail's take:
"Take that, shamers! Blac Chyna opts for slimming black as she leaves Miami with Rob Kardashian after being trolled for pregnant body."
"The former stripper showed her haters that her body was just fine the next day as she wore slimming black when she went with her Keeping Up With the Kardashians fiancé to the airport in Miami."
"Shamers, watch out! The non-thin Blac Chyna proudly wore black to the Miami airport, perhaps set to attend a tropical funeral or planning to rob several banks and give birth to her baby on the bank floor, then take her own baby hostage as an empowering ‘Eff You' to her body-shamers."
"He has a look: The E! black sheep wore a NY hat and Gucci slides."
"The bestie of Amber Rose was also makeup free, though she tried to hide her face with a pair of oversized black sunglasses. The star wore a black shirt, black slacks with zippers on the pockets and black Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost Black sneakers (that's Kanye West's brand). In her hand was a white mini purse with gold studs. Her future husband (Us Weekly has reported they will wed this summer) also had on head-to-toe black. Rob wore a black t-shirt and slacks, but instead of shoes from brother in law West (who is married to Kim Kardashian), the sock entrepreneur went with Gucci slides."
"Letting it slide: The strip-club savant looked sweaty in all-black ensemble that emphasized his new girth. Were he given a small shove with the correct angle and velocity, it's possible the future hoarder would skid down the airport floor like a chubby toddler at a water park. His Gucci slides paired perfectly with this concept."
"It is believe the couple are headed back to Los Angeles."
"It is also believe the couple are headed for the underworld, where Charon the ferryman will escort them across the River Styx and hand them Satan in baby form. ‘Raise him well and on reality television and in Gucci slides,' he will say. Eventually, they will all three lord over the universe, roasting nonbelievers over the flames like so many hot dogs."
"Where's the bump? The strip club visitor barely looked pregnant even in profile."
"It was not reported why though he was seen with an oversized blue suitcase."
"It is possible the oversize blue suitcase is holding mountains of baby-size Gucci slides for Satan."
The celebrity: Amanda Seyfried
What she is actually doing: Walking to her car while drinking coffee.
What she is actually wearing: Black jeans and a gray sweatshirt.
The Daily Mail's take:
"Amanda Seyfried has been dressing up every day to star on her new TV series Twin Peaks. But on Wednesday the 30-year-old blonde beauty was all about keeping it simple as she headed out on a coffee run in West Hollywood. The Mama Mia! [sic] star wore a drab grey sweatshirt with black slacks, and had on not a spot of makeup."
"Au naturel! Amanda Seyfried, 30, dressed down and went make-up free in West Hollywood on Wednesday."
"Fueling up! The blonde beauty grabbed a coffee and got her caffeine fix on the outing."
"Girl power! Amanda Seyfried looked hag chic on her latest trek to the local coffee house, where she was seen drinking coffee and peeling her face off, layer by layer, until all that was left were bones and a very trim body in a gray sweatshirt and adorable skinny jeans."
"Actress Amanda Seyfried looked low key and casual while out grabbing coffee in Los Angeles.
We are familiar with this cozy look, black pants, grey sweatshirt, and a pair of dark sunglasses. I think we all have reached for this type of look when we are running errands. What sets it apart from your everyday is her incorporation of the Givenchy butterfly and magnolia Pandora bag."
"The fresh-faced starlet accessorised with a pair of dark sunglasses and a small black leather Givenchy bag emblazoned with a butterfly pattern. She finished her ensemble with a pair of blue and white checkered tennis shoes while she cradled the warm beverage."
"On the go! The Mean Girls actress strolled through the city before making her way back to her car."
"Uptown girl! Seyfried loves that song and appeared to be chanting it slowly on the way to her car."
"Seyfried appeared to be in good spirits while strolling through the city before making her way back to her car. The award-winning actress went solo on the outing, just a few months after she split with her boyfriend of more than two years, Justin Long."
"Vroom vroom! Justin Long's discarded woman was sitting in her car for hours before she put the key in the ignition, perhaps thinking about all the ways in which her life had gone wrong. She smiled the whole time, cradling her coffee like the child she had hoped to one day conceive with Long."
The celebrity: Ben Affleck
What he is actually doing: Having a clichéd mid-life crisis.
What he is actually wearing: A black t-shirt, black sweatpants, and a black fleece.
The Daily Mail's take:
"The Disheveled Knight! Batman star Ben Affleck steps out in baggy sweatpants and crumpled t-shirt in LA."
"He may star as the Dark Knight on the big screen, but in LA on Friday he looked more like the disheveled knight. Ben Affleck stepped out wearing baggy sweatpants and a crumpled t-shirt as he ran errands around town. His hair and beard also appeared somewhat unkempt as he made his way to his new love — a recently-purchased classic red Chevrolet SS."
"Running errands: The 43-year-old, who is separated from wife Jennifer Garner, sported a graying full beard and appears to be letting his hair grow longer."
"Dish to Disheveled Dish Towel: Ben Affleck walked around Los Angeles looking like he had been mistaken for Justin Long and run over by Amanda Seyfried. Sad and lonely Ben, who misses his wife, has purchased a new car to replace her. It's red, like the inside of his mouth."
"Though it was a rather warm day, the actor, 43, added a black coat to his ensemble. He rounded out the laid-back look with some grey trainers."
"The Gigli star, who is 43 and single and ready to mingle, took off his coat at one point and laid down on the ground on top of it. When a passerby expressed concern, the friend of Jimmy Kimmel closed his eyes and began to quote full passages from Armageddon."
"Nice car: The 43-year-old actor also looked somewhat unkempt as he made his way to his classic red Chevrolet SS."
"Sweating it out: Though it was a rather warm day, the Batman star, who it's been announced will appear in a standalone movie as the Caped Crusader, opted to add on a black coat."
"Ben Affleck, who is depressed, wore a big coat to run errands around Los Angeles. At one point, it fell off to reveal a crumpled t-shirt, which later fell off to reveal a human man. Ben Affleck is a human man."
The celebrity: Kroy Biermann, the husband of Real Housewife Kim Zolciak
What he is actually doing: Taking care of the couple's sick 3-year-old son at the hospital.
What he is actually wearing: A lead apron to protect him from radiation emanating from an X-ray machine.
The Daily Mail's take:
"The mother of six shared a Snapchat video of her 30-year-old husband Kroy Biermann carrying their three-year-old son Kash at the hospital."
"Father and son: Kroy Biermann was shown in an Instagram snap wearing an apron while holding Kash's hand during an examination."
"Sexxx-ray: Kash, who is 3, is not famous, and was wearing a hospital gown. He looked disheveled inside the X-ray machine, where he had to sit still for several hours without changing his Snapchat filter. Kim looked sexy and sleek in Gucci slides and a vintage Korn hat."
"'Don't you love daddies dress', she added in the caption along with a photo showing Kroy in an apron while holding Kash's hands during an examination."