What’s the Point of the Tabloids?

Yesterday the coolest thing happened. I was on the train coming back from visiting my mom and the woman sitting across from me was reading Us Weekly, In Touch, and OK magazine. I was a little bit jealous because I’m reading a book for book club that I am finding exceedingly difficult to get through and would much rather have been reading one of her trashy magazines. Then when we got to Grand Central and she got up, she LEFT HER MAGAZINES! Right there on the seat. That’s like $15 just thrown away! So I checked out the covers and grabbed the Us Weekly and In Touch, leaving behind the OK. As I got off the train I started thinking about what my limits were with the tabloids and why I bother to read this nonsense at all.

When I read the trashy pop culture magazines I think of them as pure fiction. I don’t believe a single “source” or photo or think that the stories I’m reading are even close to the truth. Us Weekly this week is reporting that Jessica Simpson is pregnant again. When you read the article, within the first two paragraphs it says, “Jessica Simpson’s reps declined to comment.” From that point on I know that whoever is quoted in the article is full of crap. Does that make me turn the page or stop reading? No. Because it’s entertaining. I know that Jessica Simpson the person and Jessica Simpson who I am reading about are two different people. Jessica Simpson the person probably has very little idea that this article exists (and if she is seasoned enough, doesn’t care either way). Meanwhile the people at Us Weekly are probably saying she’s pregnant because she hasn’t lost all of her baby weight yet and if there is one thing that everyone and their mother has in common, its that they’re all obsessed with Jessica’s weight (even Weight Watchers).

There was even a story about how much Kate Middleton wants a baby. The source being a “childhood friend” of Kate’s. They even showed a picture of the friend and Kate which looked like it was taken when Kate was about 15 years old. If you went back and asked some of my high school friends how I felt about having a baby they would have no clue. If I was famous, they would make up a lot of stuff to make some quick money but, I can’t imagine a girl I went to high school with commenting on my life now because it would all be false. Which is exactly what that article was.

In general I don’t have a problem with these fictitious accounts of these celebrities lives because they are so clearly out of left field. All of the people in these magazines have signed on to be in the public eye and know that they are going to be followed by paparazzi and have their photo taken. I’m sure that this is probably not their favorite part of their lives, but its the price they pay for living a life of luxury and fame. I do have a problem when paparazzi take pictures of celebrity children without their celebrity parent (like Suri Cruise) or go out of their way to invade the privacy of someone in the public eye (like Kate Middleton’s topless photos). But in general, if I was famous, I wouldn’t read these ridiculous magazines unless I wanted to get a fictional account of what was going on in my life (or was completely narcissistic, which is also a huge possibility).

So I read Us Weekly and In Touch and Life and Style when I’m bored or need something mindless or a rich lady leaves her copies on the train. I steer clear of OK and Star because I find them to be more mean spirited and that makes me uncomfortable. And then there’s People which, let’s face it, is like hard news compared to the rest of this garbage.

What does everyone else think about this tabloid culture?

Celebrity, in other places: Stars! They Really Are Just Like Us and Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin: I Knew You When

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