Why do people care so much about the private lives of celebrities? Is it idol worship, schadenfreude, or something entirely different?
I think it's mainly a schadenfreude thing. I really believe that the reason these people are paid so many millions is not for their work so much, but more to be up on a pedestal to get knocked around, dissected, and have the insecurities of the public projected on. I think we're all on edge, and it helps to have someone you can totally lay into with your pent up hostility. Many people are also becoming more isolated and self absorbed, and with tabloids, you can peek into celebrity lives and as you wish and feel like you know a lot about somebody, without any of the complications or complexities of actual social contact. Another thing is that, especially today, people like to know what these celebrated people are really like, so they can feel just as special when they find out they have something in common with them, or that they're not REALLY so great because they did such and such or said so and so. It's something of a strange and somewhat intriguing social and psychological phenomena we're seeing these days.