12-07-2008, 01:42 PM
One of the terms used to describe this is "Tripping the Prom Queen/King" and it usually means that society, as a group, likes to watch that ugly tumble off the pedestal. Another is that humanity, as a species, just cannot seem to look away from the proverbial "train wreck". And the media, in whatever form it may be in at that time, is more than willing to provide access and commentary. The more lurid the better. And it has been going on for centuries.
As for how it might have developed. Well, we are social creatures (believe it or not!) and good, bad or indifferent it can be very satisfying to chew over the latest hot gossip and news with our fellow homo spines. And, no country is immune to this.
01. Any drawn out, public divorce of any British celebrity (and the uglier the details, name calling and so forth the "better"). And not just in the 20Th and 21st Centuries. I'm sure tongues were wagging all over with King Henry VIII and his marital problems.
02. The abdication of King Edward VIII to marry "the woman he loved"
03. The Whitechapel Murders attributed to "Jack the Ripper"