The language of gossip

Every Sunday I attempt to read the Sun Herald, but usually just end up flicking through it and marvelling at how their “revamped” look makes the entire thing look like badly-designed advertorial. (I can’t bring myself to read The Other One.) Why can’t we have a decent Sunday paper?

Anyway, the S section is a good place to find things to blog about. Like today’s Gossip page by Jo Casamento.

“Steph Rice sure let a good’un slip away in the form of Commonwealth Games medallist Eamon Sullivan.

While glamour girl Rice has been splashing her love life over the red carpet with Wallaby Quade Cooper, Sullivan was cutely showing off snaps to S of his 97-year-old gran, who will visit him in Sydney from Perth with his family at Christmas time.”

The message is pretty clear: that it’s Rice’s fault the relationship has ended, because she let him “slip away” (ie, she should have changed herself to keep him, or trapped him into marriage, because that’s all a woman should aspire to); that because he’s good looking and was talking about his grandmother to a gossip columnist (ie, clearly aware of the image he is projecting to a reporter), he’s a good catch; that she only went to the John Eales Medal dinner with her Wallaby boyfriend to show off; that she’s splashing her love life around everywhere like a huge dirty slut. Rice and Sullivan broke up in 2008 (thank you Google), so gossip columnists need to get over it and move on. The people in that relationship clearly have.

The next bit of eye-glazingly dull “gossip” is about Matt Shirvington giving a speech at his wife’s book launch. I don’t know how an official speech at an event that journalists were invited to counts as gossip, but apparently it is:

“Speaking of athletes, if you could bottle sprinter-turned-commentator Matt Shirvington, you would.

The Sky News sports presenter proved the perfect husband at wife Jess Shirvington’s book launch last week, giving a gorgeous yet humorous speech about her that had most girls in the room doe-eyed and swooning.”

The message here: that all it takes to be a “perfect husband” is to say nice things about your wife at her book launch. As if he was seriously going to say, ‘oh, the book’s ok, but it’s not really my thing, and yeah, she’s ok too, but like any couple, we disagree over things and don’t have enough sex’. Also, that grown women are “girls” who go weak at the knees around a “perfect husband”. (Because, again, the only thing women aspire to is finding and marrying Mr Right.)

This is the out-dated, sexist image of women being presented again and again, so is it any wonder that the MSM savaged Kristy Fraser-Kirk? Clearly she was just being an ungrateful cow for pointing out that being groped at work is against the law.

13 responses to “The language of gossip

  1. is it any wonder that the MSM savaged Kristy Fraser-Kirk? Clearly she was just being an ungrateful cow for pointing out that being groped at work is against the law.

    As much as I agree with you that being groped at work is wrong I think that what put most people off Ms Fraser Kirk was the size of her ambit claim right or wrong it did make her just look greedy instead of a woman seeking justice.
    That said I think that the Sunday papers an an absolute waste of time just like all of the gossip mags that adorn the checkout of every super market, frankly I am entirely indifferent to “celeberities” and their lives.

    • Hi Iain, haven’t seen you around here in a while. I look down on tabloids from my perch of superiority, but I don’t have a problem with their existence – each to their own and all that. But I do have a problme with the way all this celebrity crap is written because it implies that a woman’s value is in the quality of man she can “get” and “keep”. And the amount of weight she can lose so she can pose in a bikini.

  2. Oh I read all of your posts NWN in fact I’m adding you to my Blogroll soon 🙂
    Oh I agree with what you say there, In fact its pretty obvious that its all a game for most of celebrities, They pretend to be disdainful of the whole deal but they keep fronting up for the “events”. Have you by any chance seen the short lived serries with Courtney Cox called “Dirt”? (my post about it : ) although its fiction I think that it does have some insights into the mind set of the producers of precisely the sort of crap we are talking about here.

    • I haven’t seen it, but I have heard of it. I read a theory somewhere about the function of celebrity gossip – that because we’re now living in cities and don’t know our neighbours and others in the street/suburb, celebrities function as people we can all talk about. And the purpose of talking about someone else’s behaviour is to reinforce society’s norms and what happens to you if you deviate from these norms. Not sure if I buy it, but it’s an interesting theory.

      • I have another theory on celebrity gossip. It is bitching without consequence, sanctioned nastiness. Say something shitty about one of your mates in your friendship circle and it may eventually get back to that person, or the friend listening to you may think slightly less of you for bitching. But say something outrageously nasty about a stranger and there are no come backs (and I am guilty of it too before my horse starts looking a little high). I agree with your point that this helps us work out social norms with which to go along with and live by.

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  4. For a long time after moving to Australia from Scotland I whinged about how appalling the newspapers were here. I don’t even bother watching most of the news and current affairs programs. Then over time I resigned myself to reading online overseas broadsheets like the Guardian and The Times. During this time these in turn become repositaries for idle gossip and lazy journalism. So now I read blogs (like yours) instead of columnists and online magazines/news journals instead of papers. So keep writing – okay?

  5. I’m glad I have given something for all you sad, bored, lonely people to write, comment about and dwell over! Thanks for reading, and I’m thrilled I have given you enough ammunition to write an entire blog about my column. I doubt you could ever provide the same to a newspaper columnist.
    Cheers and happy reading.
    Jo Casamento

    • Hi Jo Casamento, welcome to the News with Nipples. You will notice that in this post I have not attacked you. I was writing about how the language of gossip portrays women, and also questioned how the Shirvington piece qualified as gossip, since it was a media event.

      Anyway, as I said, I did not attack you, yet that is all you have done to me, and to my readers. And you didn’t address any of the issues that I raised about the way the Rice/Sullivan piece was written and why you seem to think that a reasonably brief relationship two people had while they were young and that ended years ago, is still so important to you.

      PS: This is what’s called a blog post. An entire blog is The News with Nipples which, as I’m sure you can see, is not about you but is about the language used by journalists.

      • Oh, and I’m only pointing this out because it’s too funny, but you called us “sad, bored, lonely people” yet you’re the one Googling yourself on a Friday night. At 12.27am, to be exact.

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