CELEBRITY GOSSIP MAGAZINES 7
GossipMagazines generally feature outrageous stories regarding the personallives of famous people such as superstars. During the 1950s as wellas early 1960s, the genre burgeoned in North America with magazinetitles such as Confidential, Whisper, Suppressed, Uncensored andHush-Hush among others (McDonnell, 2012). The magazines incorporatedmore vivid and unequivocal content compared to gossip columnists ofpopular newspaper. Much of the content of such magazines focused onthe use of illegal drugs as well as stories of celebrityhomosexuality among others. The current paper discuses the textualcontent of celebrity gossip magazines and explains the different waysthe magazine’s readers relate this content.
Recently,there has been a discernible growth in the number of celebrity gossipmagazines. This has been harmonized with the development of celebrityculture, as it is referred to in Western capitalist society.
Forthe purpose of this paper, some of the celebrity gossip magazines tobe explored include OK!, Now, Heat and Closer among others. Thecontent analysis encompasses both written text and visual images,which signify ideological viewpoints that position the superstars inthe content, who are generally women, and the magazines’ readers asfemale gendered objects (McDonnell, 2014). According to Lieb (2013),magazines are generally an assortment of signs, which are bothsyntagmaticand exemplary. The implication of this is that the elements making upthe content of the magazine encompassing title, features, coloursused, paper texture, wording, actual content, layout of content aswell as language used. While scrutinizing the content of celebritymagazines, readers should interpret and deconstruct various complexsigns to generate significance and understanding. Lieb(2013) offersthat celebrity magazines converse their mythic connotation by usingsigns, therefore their depictions of imagery depends on the signs(symbolic) doing the communication.
Magazinereaders usually draw significance from the text, owing to the factthat they bring their own viewpoints, experiences as well as culturalvalues to the content that is deciphered. Most of such contentconsist of the mythic significance of pleasure and femininity. Theimplication of this is that, while describing the content ofcelebrity magazine, it is clear that female readers are offered arange of values as well as expectations, which the society requiresthem to accomplish as gendered females (Feasey, 2006). That is vitalregarding how females function as gender subjects in the broaderpatriarchal society, with respect to their personal identityformation, body image, as well as sexual identity.
Additionally,some celebrity gossip magazines contain features concerning bodyweight loss and diet, generally termed as health. In OK! forinstance, that is referred to as OK! Health. For other magazines suchas Now, the textual content comprise features on celebrity body imageand diets. These include columns such as ‘What I Ate Today’,Lifestyles of the Fit and Famous’. On the other hand, Closure has astandard column on ‘Body Matters’. In these magazines, all thefeatures contain images of sensational cheery female celebrities. Tothe readers, the signs provided in both texts and visuals are thatthe celebrities act as role models with stunning bodies as well asmotivating lifestyles (McDonnell, 2014).
Amagazine, such as Heat also carries text and pictures of superstarswearing bikinis on the shoreline. To the readers, they are shown themanner in which they can pose efficiently while displaying theirbodies when posturing on fascinating and striking locales. Again, thesuperstars are used to denote aspirational way of life and sexuallyattractive bodies. In other magazines such as Closer, they containfashion feature column in which readers are requested to criticfashion by female celebrities in ‘Rated or Slated’. Through this,readers can either relate to or criticize their preferredcelebrities.
Theuse of paparazzi shots is also common in the celebrity gossipmagazines. For instance, Heat comprises paparazzi shots featuringfemale superstars. Nevertheless, such celebrities are seen asbreaking the codes of romanticized exquisiteness and look disheveledor less than ideal (Feasey,2006). Inarticles such as ‘OMG! At Least You are Not Peaches’ and‘Blake-Not-So-lively’ the superstars are chastised for failing tolive up to the anticipation of physical flawlessness that is demandedby the society.
Othertextual content encompass the use of cosmetic surgery as well asenhancements by the celebrities in order to attain the perfect look.For instance, the Heat contains features of superstars such as singerFergie, which portrays cosmetic surgery as aspirational, besides,forming the daily life for the affluent, illustrious and stunningstars (McDonnell,2014). Inthe Closer magazine, an article named ‘Cheryl’s CurvyTransformation’ featuring CherylCole draws attention to her plump body and cogitates on heremployment of Botox. This suggests a sexually attractive, idealrepresentation of idealised female exquisiteness.
Moreover,the celebrity magazines also contain information telling readers whatthey should eat. Such articles generally contain photos of femalecelebrities’ bodies. On the whole, readers are advised what theyshould consume so as to attain some of the magic and glamour that isapparent in the images of the cheery fine-looking women featured inthe magazines, who are deemed to be role models (Gough-Yates,2003).The models are usually photographed in attractive locales, lookingextremely contented and successful.
Thetextual content of most of the magazines showcases the superstars asliving profound and enviable lives that the readers must desire to.Through such information, the latter are persuaded to attempt andimitate the superstars, while at the same time, trying to attain whatis absent in their normal lives. To achieve that, they must modifytheir diets and watch what they eat and eventually their bodies withthe intention of emulating the successful alluring female that arefeatured in the magazines’ content.
Anotherfactor that is evident in the textual content is the linkage betweenthe superstars and readers that is open to some discourse. Besides,the celebrities are exposed to assessment and sometimes denigrationwhen they fail to achieve an optimistic account of themselvesconsidering that they pose as role models. Nevertheless, thefundamental information that is presented by the magazines to thereaders is that such superstars are exceptional on the basis of theirphysical attractiveness, physical appearance, as well as body image(McDonnell, 2012). The faultlessness of the female body that is heldup by the celebrities as a model illustration of the femaleappearance should be followed by the readers in order to attainsocial, financial, as well as sexual achievement as women (Holmes &Redmond, 2006).
Accordingto some studies, the textual content of celebrity gossip magazinesportray women in a negative way (Feasey, 2006). By and large, theytraffic in norms of femininity in a much tremendous way includingintensive mothering, plastic surgery and weight management. Besides,the majority of the celebrities who are featured are white andinsanely affluent. Therefore, in a merely textual sense, theillustrations in this case may have a negative effect on women. Thestories are deemed to be problematic. Some authors have argued thatthey set a dialogue of Western informed standards as compared to theapparently less sophisticated nations around the globe (Holmes &Redmond, 2006). Printing stories focusing on the plight of somewomen, and setting it against the celebrity, fashion and sexualitythat is debated in the entire magazine makes it difficult for readersto scrutinize the principles disseminated to them (basically what hasbeen highlighted in the magazine including gender stereotypes andcommercialization among others).
Inthe recent time, celebrity gossip magazines have become very popular.Such magazines feature superstars, especially women. The textualcontent of most of the magazines showcases the superstars as livingprofound and enviable lives that the readers must desire to. Forinstance, amagazine, such as Heat carries pictures as well as texts ofsuperstars wearing bikinis on the shoreline. To the readers, they areshown the manner in which they can pose efficiently while displayingtheir bodies when posturing on fascinating and striking locales. Ingeneral, the textual content of these magazines contain a range oftopics including diet, body shape, sexuality, fashion, body image andcosmetic surgery among others, by reading celebrity magazines,readers usually draw significance from the text, owing to the factthat they bring their own viewpoints, experiences as well as culturalvalues to the content that is deciphered. Most of such contentconsist of the mythic significance of pleasure and femininity.
Feasey,R. (2006). Geta famous body: Star styles and celebrity gossip in heat magazines.In Holmes, S. & Redmond, S. (eds.) framing celebrity: Newdirections in celebrity culture. London: Routledge.
Gough-Yates,A. (2003). Understandingwomen’s magazines: Publishing, markets and readership.New York: Routledge.
Holmes,S. & Redmond, S. (2006). Framingcelebrity: New directions in celebrity culture.New York: Routledge.
Lieb,K. J. (2013). Gender,branding, and the modern music industry.New York: Routledge.
McDonnell,A. (2014). Readingcelebrity gossip magazine.Cambridge: Polity Press.
McDonnell,A. M. (2012). Justlike us: Celebrity gossip magazines in American popular culture.A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirementsfor the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Communication) in TheUniversity of Michigan. Retrieved fromhttp://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/91613/anmcdonn_1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y