Living

Do tabloids serve a purpose?

Like many people, I rifle through Us magazine and In Touch when I’m in line at the grocery store and when I’m feeling rich I’ll bring those badboys home with me. That’s not all. Before I start working in the morning, I indulge in a little Daily Mail too (nobody writes a headline like the Daily Mail’s crew of wicked step sisters).

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Masterfile

Like many people, I rifle through Us magazine and In Touch when I’m in line at the grocery store and when I’m feeling rich I’ll bring those badboys home with me. That’s not all. Before I start working in the morning, I indulge in a little Daily Mail too (nobody writes a headline like the Daily Mail’s crew of wicked step sisters). 

Reading about who’s fat, who’s pregnant, and who may have gotten caught with her underwear around her ankles (Charlotte Church!) isn’t a good or wise use of a person’s time. But you’ve got to admit, it beats doing sit-ups.  

And there has to be a reason why so many of us indulge in tabloid reading occasionally—a reason aside from perverse curiosity, which I possess in unnatural quantities. One explanation for the tabloid’s enduring appeal: it offsets the nauseating puff pieces that comprise most celebrity journalism. 

In many ways—none of them great, I’ll admit—we wouldn’t have Star’s nasty brand of tittle-tattle if we didn’t have to endure another GQ love fest with the star of this summer’s most disappointing blockbuster. Tabloids may be far too wicked, but most celebrity journalism is downright inane.  

If celebrity journalism is a valid industry and not an oxymoron (the jury isn’t just still out on this one they’re begging to be released from their duties) than isn’t it possible that tabloid journalists show a greater commitment to truth when they seek to rifle through Hollywood’s well-tended Garden of Eden looking for worms? 

It depends on your definition of truth. Unfortunately, tabloids define truth narrowly— if they think about it at all. Tabloids assume that the reality is always dirty and dark and they reduce a person to the sum of their vices. Addictions, affairs, kinks, perversions and the greatest vice of all, cellulite, are the facts as they see them. More importantly, if tabloid stories could be trusted Jen and Brad would be back together already!  

On the flipside, celebrity profiles in most magazines, from Esquire to Marie Claire, choose to emphasize the illusory virtues of fame and celebrity. They focus on beauty, money and on all those amazing opportunities for sex with beautiful rich people! 

Neither tabloids nor mainstream celebrity profiles provide much in the way of truth, but tabloids at least manage to be entertaining. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if the two strands of celebrity journalism brought vice and virtue together to present a more complex vision of the people we choose to elevate to magazine-cover status? Until then we’ll continue to endure perfect profiles in GQ and ghastly silhouettes in Us magazine.