Celebrity Gossip Magazine
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In my relatively short but still wildly illustrious career, I've worked at a fair few weekly celebrity magazines. They were, unsurprisingly, a lot of fun: it's like bitching about your friends in that secret group WhatsApp you all have, only your friends are all good-looking and famous and keep getting off with someone low level from Geordie Shore, and also you're being paid for it. Additional perk: PRs keep sending you cake. I really can't recommend it enough.
But it's not all fun and games. Being on the sausage-making side of the ever-grinding fame machine, you see a different side to the world of celebrity and the glimmer of being famous: the constant hustle, the fake friendships and the even faker smiles, the fact that you have to post one Instagram selfie a day (one a day! Think how many good pictures you have ever taken of you in your lifetime. One a day!): plus, you're constantly drinking lukewarm prosecco next to a showbiz editor at a Wednesday night sponsored party, deciding what pound of flesh you're willing to cut out of your life and sell to the highest bidder.
If you fancy being famous: hey, go for it, I'm sure your Soundcloud page will take off any day now. But consider this behind-the-scenes peek at the world of gossip mags to be a warning: as soon as you get an Instagram blue tick, it's fair game to say pretty much anything about you. And once it starts, you get into a weird place where you never want it to stop, to the point you start making up shit about yourself just to extend your 15 minutes of fame up to 16, 17, maybe 18 minutes. Think about it like this: do you want to be Antony Costa? Because you're probably going to end up being Antony Costa.
Which is, broadly, fine: fitness DVDs are big business, and sometimes it's hard to think what to buy your mum for Christmas. But the false idea of a celebrity's "before" picture (before the inevitable trim "after") is what's sinister: as soon as they land back in the UK, they hit the gym twice a day and basically starve themselves down for the DVD cover shoot over the course of a deeply unhealthy boom-and-bust three months.
At the beginning of the week, one editor I worked for would decide what cover lines she'd like, regardless of whether it had happened or not. It's sort of like cosmic ordering or wish fulfilment: she'd be writing things like, "Jennifer Aniston: I've Moved On" and "Michelle Keegan: I Want A Baby", then plan what she'd like the stories to be that week around these invented headlines. In the days leading up to press day, the desk would work hard at trying to find anything remotely linked to any of the stories she'd essentially made up. The result? The magazine sold. Loads.
If you ever interviewed a celebrity and they were rude to you, you got permission to "poison pen" them. I never did it (notice how I omitted the boybander's name! See! Nice!), but colleagues of mine would do, and use it as an excuse to write the most unflattering, candid intros detailing exactly just how late, rude or arrogant their interviewee was.
An editor of mine had a list of people she'd met, hated, and refused to write about. There were about eight people who never, ever made it into the magazine. The list was printed off and stuck on the wall so newbies in the team knew which celebrities to turn down for interviews: the "Wall of Hate" and the "Wall of Love". Woe betide you if you made it to the hate wall. You might never work in this town again.
It's not just editors inventing headlines and bending the news around to suit them: Z-list celebrities have their own sub-economy, where they invent (or exaggerate) stories about their apparent near-death experiences, drug relapses and engagements, then sell the exclusive on to the highest bidder. Essentially: a good Z-list celebrity is like Charles Dickens, constantly inventing serialised fictions and selling them out on a weekly basis.
To be the first person to report on a celebrity break-up or feud is a big part of the job, and it means being on constant pally terms with the celebrities. We'd go out for lunch with them, meet up for drinks with them and hang out at parties with them, all in an effort to be the first to get the scoop. Essentially: both the journalist and celebrity would be friends with each other in a very fragile way where they both get something out of the friendship, just not actual, you know, friendship.
When you read "a source revealed", it's usually one of three people: the celebrity themselves, issuing lies via a PR; just the journalist behind the computer writing whatever fits in with the story; or some personal trainer who half-knew them, once, 18 months ago, and has just enough working knowledge of that person to make their quote seem semi-believable.
Andrea McDonnell is a young media scholar who makes no secret of her passion for her subject, and her determination to persuade the academic community and the casual reader that celebrity gossip magazines are a subject worthy of serious study. In this readable book which runs to 137 lively pages, she provides us with an (almost) 360 degree case study of five US gossip magazines at a particular moment in time, interviewing magazine editors, talking to a group of readers, and examining the texts.
The study also found that the caudate nucleus, a reward center in the brain, was activated in response to negative gossip about celebrities; subjects seemed to be amused or entertained by salacious celebrity scandals. (The researchers also polled how the subjects felt, in addition to studying what their brain images revealed. Not surprisingly, they were happier to hear positive gossip about themselves, and more irked by hearing negative gossip about themselves as opposed to hearing gossip about others.)
The original version of this story misstated the methodology of research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2019. It is a meta-analysis of gossip as a behavior, not a study.
We've reached a point, it seems, where you probably couldn't hope to sell anything unless it's connected in some way to some piece of some celebrity. Seriously. You could invent a machine that can convert water into wine, but unless you have Robert Downey Jr. to say it works, it might very well just sit in the garage covered in spider webs.
Why is this happening? Celebrity drives viewership. No doubt. They are eyeball magnets. Celebrity content pulls tons of views. And nothing, it seems, attracts more eyeballs than celebrity gossip websites.
Ok ok, Hollywood celebrity has been a staple of the advertising toolbox for eons. During the last century, celebrity endorsements helped build brands like Jim Beam and Coke, to Tootsie Roll to Jockey underwear. Back then of course, positive celebrity stories attracted the brand managers and companies with advertising dollars. Remember the episode of Mad Men where a celebrity endorser crossed the line with Bill and Salie Utz, the owners of the Utz potato chip company. He was asked off the business.
But times have changed. Celebrity behavior is the medium. Frivolous stories and, moreover, salacious stories generate a load of interest and attention on the gossip websites and blogs. Especially among hard to pin down millennials.
Celebslam.com - Celebslam brings you all the usual rumors and gossip, but they are very upfront about the fact that they will insult you and make jokes about people potentially. .. doing things... to images of you.
Defamer.com - Part of the Gawker blogging network, Defamer mixes traditional celeb gossip with Hollywood insider type chatter of what is going on behind-the-scenes of movies with a healthy dose of on-set spy shoots of movies in the work.
IDontLikeYouInThatWay.com - While they cover the same gossip as all the other sites, they do it with a decidedly acid tongue that leaves no question as to how they feel about each personality they cover.
PerezHilton.com - There is no way you could make a list of gossip sites without including the king of them all, Perez Hilton. Hated by some, loved by others, there is no denying that Hilton is on top of all the latest happenings.
The online version of this magazine has a very clean appearance, allowing readers to find articles of particular interest. The color choices make everything more visually pleasing while also maintaining a very simple look to keep pages free and clear.
Blogs have become the online expression of American egalitarianism in relation to those placed on a pedestal by way of their participation in public entertainment. And just as Oscar Wilde and Voltaire lampooned the aristocracy in 19th and 17th century Europe, so too do Michael K, Trent Vanegas, and Perez Hilton sit down each day at their computers and turn their keen eyes to the celebrity aristocracy among us (Tenenbaum).
If you're looking for the best gossip sites and blogs to stay up-to-date with the latest celebrity news, look no further. We've rounded up the top 10 sites that cover everything from the Kardashians to the Royal Family, so you can be sure you're always in the know.
Attention Anglophiles, prince-oglers, Queen fiends, and glamour addicts: you could do worse than US Weekly for a close encounter with the most famous family from across the pond. Though the Royal Family has been a topic of interest amongst most celebrity mags on the market, US Weekly has a monopoly on some of the best stories, glitziest photos, and first scoops surrounding Buckingham and its inhabitants. The website features a whole section dedicated to the Royals, with a constantly updated news feed of stories, photo spreads, and exposes about Harry, Meghan, Kate, and, of course, the Queen herself.
Back in the winter of 2011, I was sitting in my tiny apartment in Austin, Texas, finishing my dissertation on the history of celebrity gossip. Starting all the way back at the beginning of what we now know as Hollywood, I traced the evolution of how stars were created, packaged, sold, and consumed, from Mary Pickford through Britney Spears. 781b155fdc