Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Us Weekly as Crystal Ball

Ok, so I've been an Us Weekly subscriber since I was 22. I'm now 29. Initially, it was my Wall Street Journal and New York Times and CNN all rolled into one (sad, I know.) I considered it to be a reliable source for the news that really mattered to me. I read every article, snippet and caption, from cover to cover. Over time, it became junk food for my brain, just easy fun--nothing serious. I skipped articles I didn't care about (anything about the Jonas Brothers) and would often just skim the articles and look at the pictures. Then, I became a mom, and two things happened:

1. I became so busy, I began to have a backlog of magazines to catch-up on, meaning I was not the most well-informed celebrity gossip follower.

2. I began to see the magazine for what it truly is: a vehicle for Hollywood publicists to push their agendas and their versions of stories onto the readers. They use the mag to help squash unflattering rumors and plant the seed for rumors that will make their clients more popular. Most commonly, we see publicity stunt relationships (Kim Kardashian and Gabriel Aubry, every relationship Taylor Swift has ever had) and damage control to prevent celebrities' personal lives from negatively impacting their latest project.
Example: Yesterday I was reading the Us Weekly from nearly two weeks ago (as I said, I'm falling behind) and I saw a little blurb in the "Love Notes" section about a very amorous night at a party with married couple Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds. "They couldn't keep their hands off one another!" it reads. Something about that just didn't ring true for me. I love my husband of nearly five years, yet we can totally keep our hands off each other at a party...in fact, all of my friends who are in loving, committed relationships manage to spend time together without launching into PDA. This led me to one conclusion:
I said, "Oh noooo! Yo' marriage is in danger, girl!" I've learned through years of reading these little articles that, if your publicist feels the need to plant an item in a tabloid to announce to millions of readers that you kissed your wife at a party, it means your marriage is not long for this world.

So this afternoon I was reading my favorite celebrity gossip blog, DListed. Blogger Michael K published a statement from Ryan or Scarlett's publicist (via Us Weekly--obviously) stating that Ryan and Scarlett have decided to end their two year marriage. Mmm hmm. Sometimes, sometimes ol' Sammy knows what she's talking about.

If you learn to spot the signs, you can read the subtext of these gossip rags, which is much more interesting and truthful than the magazine itself. You can learn which photo-ops are staged and why, whose relationship is really a publicity stunt, which starlet is acting as a beard to which young closeted gay hearthrob, who's about to get divorced, go to rehab, etc. I may have a gift for this. How disappointing.

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