Yesterday I did something awful, and I did it for you.
I bought a copy of NW.
I had to buy it at a place I don’t normally shop, so they wouldn’t recognise me.
And I had to hide it inside the newspaper in my bag in case anyone happened to peek inside and see it.
And when the lovely M came over for dinner last night, I had to hide it under Spectrum and The King’s Tribune, in the bedroom, in case she had quietly developed x-ray vision and saw it from the living room.
That’s how much of a snob I am.
Why did I buy this? Well, I’ve been reading Caitlin Moran’s very excellent How to be a woman and her chapter on role models clarified my unease about ignoring these tabloid magazines. Moran writes:
Tabloids, magazines and the Daily Mail work by means of turning the lives and careers of a few dozen women into a combination of living soap and daily morality lesson – on the good side, responding to the gigantic desire to examine the modern female condition, but on the bad side, leaving the subjects ostensibly powerless to write their own narrative, or express their own analysis of the matter. This is why any modern feminist worth her salt has an interest in the business of A-list gossip: it is the main place where our perception of women is currently being formed. (p. 247).
So, let’s look at the cover of NW:
Surgery shockers, or simply four photos of women who were photographed while speaking, half-smiling or generally doing something that required their face to move?
Inside, someone has helpfully written “Giant lips” on the picture of Kim Kardashian’s clearly un-giant lips, along with an arrow pointing to her lips for all those people who struggle to identify lips on a face. Phew, thanks NW.
Almost all of the photos of these “surgery shockers” are simply bad photos, or photos of faces in motion. I don’t know about you, but when I’m photographed while talking, my face looks like it’s melting. Sure, a few of these faces look a bit odd (again, could just be a bad photo), but instead of the “HELLO, DUCK FACE” headline, why not have at least one line about an industry that pressures beautiful women to inject shit into their faces because that’s somehow more beautiful? You know, explain why it’s bad, rather than starting and ending with “we don’t like how it looks”, which means the whole public conversation about cosmetic surgery revolves around what other people think of your face. Hell, the caption under the photo of Sophie Monk was your lead-in: “I should have said no, but I trusted the doctor”. But instead of having anything constructive to add, magazines like NW just point and say “let’s all laugh at them because they don’t know where the invisible line is between a good amount of shit-injecting and a bad amount of shit-injecting”.
I’m not suggesting that NW become The Bulletin (although the defunct bit is appealing). But this is a weekly magazine about famous women that has nothing positive to say about women. If they’re not stealing each other’s boyfriends/husbands – thereby ignoring the fact that these men chose to cheat on their partners and are the ones who should be copping the blame – then they’re not eating enough or they are eating too much, which is really just an excuse for someone to say that these famous women look ugly. The nameless journos who work for these mags are policing the bodies of women they don’t know and will never meet.
These magazines make their money from photos of famous women that, for the most part, those women did not agree to. They also make shit up about these photos, knowing that American celebrities on the other side of the world aren’t able to monitor everything that is written about them and sue or demand a public apology. Like “humiliated” Demi Moore:
To me, this looks less “humiliated and heartbroken” and more “get the fuck out of my face with your camera. Can’t you see I’m just trying to walk somewhere? Seriously, you parasite photographer who makes money from my image without my permission, just fuck off”.
And apparently Kristen Stewart is “obsessed” with Angelina Jolie and to “prove” it, there’s a photo of Stewart in a brown leather dress and Jolie in a black leather dress. I don’t know much about fashion but even I know leather is in.
And, there’s this:
Oh my god, NW, you’re so right! Two actresses who have both been on magazine covers and both worn a fashionable outfit and both hooked up with someone they met on a movie set and so one must be copying the other!
The whole story is about what Stewart’s boyfriend apparently thinks of this apparent obsession. The message to readers: the most important thing about yourself is what your boyfriend thinks.
One of the MSM’s favourite topics is telling Madonna what to do. (I’ve blogged about this before, here and here.) In NW, yet another nameless journo is yet another un-famous person telling one of the Western world’s most famous pop stars – one who is still topping the charts at 53, in an industry obsessed with youth – to “put it away”. And this sniping about Madonna’s appearance is masked as concern (trolling) for her daughter. The headline: “Stop it, mum! Madge can’t help showing up her daughter”.
The teenage years can be tough. You’re growing all the time, there’s hair sprouting where there never used to be hair and your parents are, like, so embarrassing.
So imagine what 15-year-old Lourdes Leon went through when her 53-year-old mum Madonna cavorted around a stage in fishnet tights and a pair of bondage boots.
Ok, I’ll imagine. She probably thought her mum was doing what she normally does.
While Lourdes should be used to Madge playing the raunchy card at the drop of a hat, insiders tell NW – hahahahahaha, yeah, right – she’s reached breaking point over mum’s sexy shenanigans.
“She thinks it’s high time her mum started to grow old gracefully,” says a source.
No doubt that “source” is the anonymous journo making this shit up. Why should anyone “grow old gracefully”, when we all know that simply means to disappear from public view so young people don’t have to look at icky older people.
…seeing Madge make a spectacle of herself… She feels like she’s making a fool of herself.
There are three themes here: 1) it is embarrassing when women over the age of 40 are seen having fun in public; 2) the relationship between mother and daughter is nothing more than some kind of Electra complex for the men in the nightclub; and 3) Madonna is a bad mother.
Three other mothers – Dina Lohan, Christina Aguilera and Kendra Wilkinson – are also criticised for daring to leave the house and have fun. Possibly with alcohol. So I’ll add a fourth theme: mothers should be selflessly devoted to their children at all times and not do anything that involves getting a babysitter.
People will always be interested in celebrities. There’s fantasy involved, and everyone likes looking at images of people they think are beautiful. But why do the narratives these journalists make up always have to put women down? Because fuck knows we have enough of that in our daily lives.