Fittingly, Britney Spears was the subject of the penultimate post by Trent Vanegas on Pink Is the New Blog (the star treated her family to a day at Disneyland). Britney is Vanegas's favorite celebrity, and someone he's chronicled since first starting to blog in 2002 and after launching Pink a decade ago.
"I have always been a fan and champion of Britney's, so it's easy for me to gush about my love for her and her fun music," Vanegas tells The Advocate. "When she went through her dark period, absolutely everyone seemed to be piling on her, seemingly enjoying her breakdown. It was very important for me to not do that and for my reporting on her life to be as positive as possible."
The Los Angeles–based blogger has made a career of being nice, though his last post for Pink, on October 1, was heavier than his usual updates on Nicki Minaj, Caitlyn Jenner, and The Walking Dead:
"I’ve thought long and hard about what my last post here on Pink is the new Blog might be like … and not just over the past few months when I was informed that I would no longer be writing the site. … I have always found it incomprehensible that the nothing blog that I started turned into such a phenomenon. I am well aware of the fact that I am not the best writer, not even the best blogger in terms of traffic and metrics and all the other stuff that is used to measure success in online media. All I’ve ever wanted to do was share my fandom of things with other fans."
Pink Is the New Blog is still running, even without Vanegas at the helm. Owned and run now by Spin Media — owner of Spin and Vibe magazines — the site is still very closely associated with the writer, who carved a niche for himself as one of the first celebrity bloggers. But Vanegas's blog also stood out against other entertainment sites run by gay men, like DListed and Perez Hilton.com — blogs known for eviscerating celebrities, usually hilariously and often cruelly.
"Because I am such a fan of so many things, it never made sense for me to write terrible things about other people," Vanegas says. "It became clear to me that nastiness sells in celeb blogging, but it's not a style I could adopt, even if I wanted to."
Whether profitable or not, writing mean-spirited posts isn't good for the soul. Even Mario Lavandeira (the real name of Perez Hilton), once the most reviled figure on the blogosphere, has long since scrapped nasty headlines and offensive images. Vanegas says Perez's infamous white Microsoft paint style — he famously drew semen on certain stars' faces — was influenced by Pink, with Perez long ago complimenting Vanegas on his habit of writing commentary directly on photos. (Lavandeira remember things differently, saying he didn't know about Pink when he launched PerezHilton.com.)
Vanegas says he's not sure why so many bloggers are gay men. He can only speak for himself, saying he adores showcasing the things he loves, be it The Hills or Star Wars or Ryan Adams.
"I have such an intense love of pop culture and celebrity," he says. "Blogging gave me a way to share my fandom with other fans."
The Michigan native blogged happily for years, but things began to go sour after he sold the site to Spin a few years ago.
"Things got very complicated when the parent company went out of business, then restructured in a way that allowed its survival," he says. "The powers that be then decided that they wanted to go 'in a new direction' with the site and give complete control of it to one of their other staff writers. It absolutely was not my decision at all for the site to be handed over to anyone else."
Vanegas isn't one to marinate in resentments, though. He runs an active Tumblr page, indulging his musical addiction with reports and video from concerts, by bands such as Marina and the Diamonds and Chvrches. Even though his love for culture has not faded, he anticipates the world moving on from blogs like Pink.
"It's the power of social media that may end up being the death knell of blogging," he says. "A story that breaks in the evening is already old by the time someone blogs about it the following morning. I truly hope that celebrity blogging can live on this culture of immediacy, because it has been one of the most enriching parts of my life."