Sunday, April 17, 2016

Supplemental Post #4: Us Weekly and the Worst Tabloid Section EVER: "Stars -- They're Just Like Us!"

I usually try to avoid the tabloids. Ever since I've looked more closely at film and the study of celebrity, the very concept of gossip mags really annoys me. I can't believe people profit off of  articles that are planted for publicity or are overly sensational just to rack in page views and money...all at the expense of the privacy of celebrities, most of whom are respectable and working industry professionals. I guess in many ways it's a smart PR move to use tabloids to one's advantage, but I can't get over the fact that so much of this information is probably made up! Real talk: It's offensive to more legitimate journalists who now are associated with this yellow journalism.

Anyhow, I do sometimes look around on tabloids to see what the gossip is (so admittedly, I do in fact promote the existence of these magazines for the exact reasons they want), and apart from a few sort of interesting articles, one section really stood out to me in this week's Us Weekly: "Stars -- They're Just Like Us!"

In it were pictures of different celebrities taking a break from glamorous sets and red carpets and doing mundane "real people" things like sitting on benches in sweat pants, buying drugstore make up,  hugging children, playing sports, and grocery shopping.

Why is this even a section in the magazine? Sure, we are conditioned to think that celebrities have assistants to do all of the normal stuff like this, but why does this it get so much attention? Is it really that absurd to think that Jennifer Garner probably picks our her own flowers at the supermarket? As a film major, I feel like I see tabloids through a very cynical lens, but I'd be interested to see what the most of America thinks. Tabloids make a huge profit -- so something tells me that many people really buy into the whole high celebrity culture that shocks the world when you find out that your favorite movie star also shops at Costco.

Tabloids are here to stay, clearly. But it's intriguing to think about how they affect celebrity culture. Press can really do wonders for (or completely ruin) one's reputation. Do sections like "They're Just Like Us!" serve to "humanize" more standoffish celebrities? Or do they further create a division between normal people and celebrities (i.e. "Jennifer Garner is SO famous that she was photographed doing something like grocery shopping...that would never happen to me")? I think it's a paradoxical mix of both.

All hating on tabloids (sorry Us Weekly) aside, look at how many contradictions are inherent in celebrity culture and in the media. Even things we take for granted, like checkout aisle magazines, ought to be examined more critically. There are so many components that affect star culture and the makeup of a celebrity. We've seen lots of instances of press being destructive for celebrities, but it would also be interesting to look at things from a publicity standpoint and dissect how tabloids have influenced public perception.

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