The Shameless Tabloid Lover in Me by Deb Jenny

I have a confession to make. I am slightly addicted to People Magazine. Well, that and US Magazine. I am inclined to slink away in shame at this admission, because I know that by actually enjoying reading these periodicals, I’m only feeding into the national Zeitgeist (or is it Volksgeist?!) into which we are currently plunged–the need for dish, gossip and mindless tidbits of information about people who we really could give a care less about. And while we’re all fixated on these celebrities’ behavioral nonsense–the skinny dipping with young men while donning ugly fedora caps, the addiction to adoption that borders on mania, the inability to cease addictions to heroin/men/attention/fill-in-the-blank–we’re bypassing all of those really important issues that should have us all permanently captivated and engaged in important debate.

Now, I will say with a modicum of self-respect that I do draw the line with those magazines. I wouldn’t even think about picking up some of the seedier tabloids. Nothing involving space aliens, mind you. But something about the, uh, marketing of those two magazines lends itself some perverse sense of credibility. As in “it’s in People, it MUST be true!”

I’ve tried to shake myself of this bad habit. There was a time–now I’m really admitting things–I had a subscription to People. What can I say? I got the dentist office discount from my dad. But that was back when my kids were small and my brain was fried and I couldn’t digest more than three sentences at night before passing out in bed from fatigue. At some point I made the leap from reading mindless blather to reading crazy things like literature. I guess it was the difference between ingesting potato chips for the brain or a good dose of broccoli. Although I don’t care for broccoli but I do love a good book. I did finally give up my subscriptions; I wanted to devote my limited reading time to something more meaty, I guess.

But the truth is, when I find myself approaching the check-out line at the grocery store, it’s difficult to bypass the headlines screaming out at me from People and Us. So I end up succumbing to the moment while paying newsstand prices, no less!

In a million years I could not really give a care about Britney, Paris, Lindsay or Angelina, but still, there’s something so embarrassingly compelling about watching their lives dismantle before our very eyes. And also being left to wonder if it’s a mere construct of some PR machine, bent on ultimately rebuilding these “celebrities’ ” images through a masterful positive publicity architectural design, or if these people are really so incredibly naive or gullible or downright stupid that they’re honestly bent on complete self-destruction through their inane actions on a regular basis, and actually want us voyeurs to peep in while it all goes down.

I suppose I must be gullible as well, because I can’t imagine that anyone who has so much “wealth” –be it financial, opportunity, adulation, or whatever–is honestly capable of throwing it all away. I still hold onto hope that Michael Jackson isn’t a creepy pedophile, even though all signs point to the contrary. It must be my innate faith in my fellow man…

I don’t know. I suppose that otherwise smart enough people like me can’t help but be taken in by the strange mystique of the tabloid is a depressing reality in our country today. But instead of succumbing to that grim notion, I’ll just hold onto the belief that it remains just a mindless diversion, a couple of potato chips in a broccoli-filled kind of world.

But lest you believe I’m a complete lost cause, I feel the need to to redeem myself. Does it help that the first thing I turn to in People magazine is the book review section?

18 thoughts on “The Shameless Tabloid Lover in Me by Deb Jenny

  1. Sigh, People and US are the first mags I pick up at a doctor’s appointment. We’ve always been fascinated by celebrity. Somewhere, on some cave in France, there’s probably a drawing that says, “Ugg wife put boulders in bra look good.”

  2. There is no shame here at The Ball. My hair stylist always has a big pile of the trashy mags for me when I show up. She understands my darker nature.

  3. I think part of the joy of reading these is that it makes our lives look so much better (or worse, if you look at it from a financial standpoint) all at the same time. We feel better that they, too, are suffering in their own perverted way…would that be schadenfreude? I’m whipping out all the German words today, aren’t I?

  4. I love People Magazine. I only let myself read it at the hairdresser, otherwise I’d never ever get anything done. My hairdresser is sufficiently awesome that she has them ready for me and sits me in a quiet chair near the back so I can catch up on the latest goings on while my highlights bake.

  5. P.S. Kim–loved your caveman scenario LOL
    And those things are hard as rocks, aren’t they?!
    Trish–I’m always torn while my foils are in: write on my laptop, as it’s perfect alone time, or leaf through the wonderful selection of mindless gossip mags 😉 .

  6. Rachel Gibson wrote a great book called “True Confessions” where the heroine turned everyday occurrences into tabloid headlines–Monkey-Faced Boy lives in Gospel Idaho–That kind of thing. It is one of my favorites!

    Strange person that I am, I love to read old movie magazines myself–like REALLY old–where they’d showcase the stars and leave out the real dirt. Motherhood Becomes Joan Crawford– that kind of thing. True fiction LOL
    They did have their “People” style mags back then though- the movie rags, and every woman read them at the hairdressers too, so we are all just following a long line of women into the trash can :~)

    Suz

  7. Great post, Jenny!

    I too scan the gossip rags at the dentist, doctor, etc. But now that such dish is also online at gawker or defamer, I am now guilty of checking those sites for the latest public debacle as well.

    (Laughing at Kim’s boulder line.)

  8. Jenny, you’re not alone. I usually resist buying them, but my mom always has the latest at her house and I admit, I look forward to getting my hands on them. And you’re right about the brain fry of having young children–these mags have been all the more appealing since I had a baby!
    D.

  9. This made me laugh. I think I told you that earlier this summer my daughters and I were on a trashy magazine diet (meaning we couldn’t buy OR read them), only to binge on 8 magazines between the three of this on our trip to NYC.

  10. I feel your pain, girl. I can’t even get on an airplane unless I’ve got a copy of People, US Weekly and a few others. And yet, there’s some part of me that feels for these celebs — it would suck to have to choose between wearing a snowsuit to the beach or always living in fear that you might end up in the FLABBY HOLLYWOOD BUTTS feature on newsstands next week.

  11. People’s not true?!!

    I’m with Deb Eileen – I relish the mags at my hairdresser’s for this exactly this reason – I need my social/celeb/Hollywood fix. The best part is when I get all outraged (“I can’t believe he did that!”) or self-righteous (“How could she just march right in there and pick him up? NOBODY else was interested except for her?!”). You’d think my own mother had pulled strings to adopt a child from Vietnam …

  12. The irony — at least for me — lies in the titles of PEOPLE and US. It’s true that some of the articles, including the Book Review section, feature the lives or ordinary individuals but then there are those “others” who cause you to wonder if they’re people like us?!

  13. Interesting thought, Larramie–hadn’t ever considered it like that. Though I guess People does try to actual feature “people” these days–but do we really read about them? Or do we leaf past those pages in pursuit of the latest on Nicole Richie (as if we care!)

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