The debate over whether celebrity scandals should be considered newsworthy is an issue which is impossible to ignore when talking about the way celebrities are portrayed in the media. This is a topic I mentioned briefly in my previous post, which you can read here, and I thought I would elaborate further on it today.
Obviously there will always be coverage of these celebrity scandals in the weekly tabloid magazines (alongside various other stories, like which celebrity mother has dared to venture out and do her own grocery shopping) but it is when these celebrity stories being to filter into mainstream media publications and broadcasts, such as the 6pm news or daily newspapers, that we should start to question the value of such reports being placed alongside serious issues concerning war, natural disasters and famine.
There have been several cases recently where a celebrity scandal has made major news headlines; examples include Charlie Sheen’s public breakdown at the beginning of 2011, the Kardashian wedding/divorce, as well as the arrests and jailing of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. All of these stories have received widespread attention and have been featured on daily news programmes. A great example of one journalist reacting negatively to a celebrity news report is MSNBC reporter Mika Brzezinski, who refused to read the story of Paris Hiltons jail release, which was supposed to be the morning show’s lead story for that day. I think her reaction definitely puts the report into perspective when it is compared with the other stories making news that day, as well as demonstrating a frustration with the triviality of celebrity news and the way it is covered in the media.
The major problem with reporting celebrity scandals or gossip as news stories is that it runs the risk of trivialising news content and potentially causing us to lose sight of the more serious issues the world is facing. It is also important to question why news programmes are increasingly reporting on celebrity gossip in their broadcasts, when there are many other places for us to see it and read about it.
Unless you were living under a rock, it would have been nearly impossible to have missed the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries in August last year. The media hype surrounding this event was hard to ignore, with coverage extending past the expected mediums of celebrity gossip magazines and entertainment television shows, making its way into mainstream media coverage not only in the US but around the world.
This article from The Hollywood Reporter, investigates how the Kardashian wedding was covered by the media, noting that although E! Entertainment had exclusive rights to film inside the wedding; the event was also published by mainstream media outlets, one example being the coverage by Good Morning America, who not only featured a recap of the event on the show but also placed the wedding coverage on their website as one of the top news articles that day, “…sandwiched between “Gary Giordano Taken for More Questioning” and “Baby Tigers at the Bali Zoo” on GMA’s homepage.” Other news stations, such as CNN, sent reporters to the wedding location in Montecito, California to report on the event that day.
If the Kardashian wedding itself didn’t generate enough media attention, the divorce (only 72 days later) certainly did. Just after announcing her divorce, Kim arrived in Australia to promote a line of handbags, resulting in a media circus (as reported in this article by News.com.au) and widespread news coverage around the world. In another article from The Hollywood Reporter, the issue of whether the entire wedding was a hoax intended to create publicity for the Kardashian ‘brand’ is discussed, citing 10 reasons why the wedding might have been faked. Different forms of media coverage feature in this list, from the massive amount paid by several entertainment magazines for photos of the wedding; to the fact extravagant wedding was ‘made-for-TV’; to the ‘convenient’ timing of the divorce announcement, which was just before the weekly magazines closed.
This raises this issue of not only how celebrities are portrayed in the media, but the relationship between the media and celebrities, and how each may use the other for their own benefit. It also causes us to question the value of stories such as these, which are increasingly being reported in mainstream news coverage, alongside more ‘serious’ issues.
Today’s society has become somewhat obsessed with celebrity culture; whether this is due to our own demands on the media for the latest celebrity gossip, or the media itself fuelling this obsession is a topic which is open for debate.
The way celebrities are portrayed in the media is extremely fickle, take Brangelina for example, one day they’re breaking up, the next they’re getting married or Angelina is pregnant again. The problem with this type of media coverage is that the reports are usually inaccurate, with limited evidence to back up these statements which come from ‘a source close to the star’.
Although the media may be driving our obsession with celebrities to some extent, we as an audience are also responsible for the way we see celebrities in the media. By purchasing the ‘trashy’ tabloid magazines, watching reality television, reading the latest gossip online or following celebrities on Twitter and other social media, we are making a choice to let that celebrity culture into our lives.
There are many different elements which draw us to celebrity gossip, whether we can relate to a particular issue our favourite celebrities may be facing (family, marriage, addiction), envy their success or take pleasure in watching them fall from grace. We naturally take an interest in the lives of those who appear to be either better off or worse off than ourselves and there is no doubt the media takes advantage of this fact.
Throughout my future blog posts I will continue to explore the ways celebrities are portrayed in the media, as well as the different ways we view them through various forms of media.
My name is Loren, and I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies at Wollongong University, with my major being Journalism and Professional Writing.
To tell you a bit about myself; I’m 20 years old and am currently living just south of Wollongong, although I was born in New Zealand and lived there until I was nine. I graduated high school in 2009 and worked full time for a year and a half before deciding to start my degree. My interests include; music, art, fashion, travelling and spending time with my friends/family.
I’ve started this blog as part of my subject BCM110, and will hopefully continue using it throughout my BCM degree!
Hope you guys enjoy what I have to offer! 🙂