Andrew Limbon, Host:
In 2022, much of what was once considered celebrity gossip was now a mainstream news story.
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Chris Rock: Wow.Will Smith just banged [expletive] from me.
Unidentified Reporter #1: Verdict in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial in another headline later today – 7 jurors side with Johnny Depp.
Unidentified Reporter #2: The impact on Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, continues, with recent anti-Semitic comments sparking public outrage.
Limbon: From the slaps heard around the world, to Ye’s anti-Semitism, to the Harry and Meghan documentary, the celebrity business felt like our business. And for many of us, it felt like news. Constance Grady writes about her Vox culture.
CONSTANCE GRADY: This year was the year that gossip really started to make its way into the mainstream news cycle in a different way than in previous years.
Limbon: Of course, the hot goth (ph) business is nothing new. Celebrity gossip has been around since celebrity days and has grown in popularity throughout the 20th century. From the 1940s to her ’50s, columnists Hedda Hopper and Luella Parsons scrutinized the scandals and personal news of the rich and famous, becoming as famous as their subjects.
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Unidentified: Luella Parsons is the latest headline in Woodbury Hollywood.
LOUELLA PARSONS: Hello everyone from New York. Well, I’m in a big city, but I have movie news from both Hollywood and New York. My first exclusive – Frank Sinatra is expecting another baby in late May.
Limbon: The popularity of gossip is spreading across media platforms almost as fast as they are invented. NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans says gossip is always popular, and it’s no surprise that celebrity stories make it into mainstream news.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: We are in a news environment where it is very difficult to get people’s attention. And you know, I think these stories about celebrities draw a lot of pageviews. It has a high audience rating. It’s also a very strong motivation to find ways to talk about these stories. And we can’t lose sight of the fact that that’s why gossip is such a big business.
Limbon: Where do we draw the line between news and gossip as more and more celebrity stories appear in mainstream news headlines? And how do we know when the line has crossed? do you want?
Deggans: I’ve spent my entire career negotiating this balance. When you get to what seems like gossip and say there’s something bigger and more important? It is a human being who believes that it is a theme.
Limbon: Eric Deggans writes about television and culture for NPR. He says many of the year’s most sensational celebrity stories are focused on bigger issues.
Deggans: If you’re covering Kanye West in and out and what he’s doing, it’s in line with the rise of anti-Semitism in America. Where does he go and what kind of people does he have relationships with? Matches the question.
Likewise, if you’re talking about Will Smith, the story about what happened after he slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars centered on how a major celebrity could be like that. Are you going to pay the price for doing something terrible in front of the world? And how much is enough? And when that person decides he or she wants to re-enter the entertainment mainstream, what does it mean to be able to do that, essentially? These are all substantive questions.
Limbon: Deggans also points to society’s evolving ideas of celebrities. Not just movie stars. Celebrities can be anyone from TikTok influencers to quirky billionaires.
Deggans: Someone like Elon Musk. He’s covering the person, he has many children and a quirky personal life. However, this seems to have been delegated to him since he had just acquired Twitter. His other company, Tesla, lost a lot of value because of it. And, you know, there’s business talk there.
Limbon: Despite the blurred lines, Deggans says journalists and news outlets need to discern the difference between celebrity gossip and news that serves the public interest.
Deggans: The traditional definition of gossip news reporting is news reporting about celebrities, not about their official celebrity behavior, but about their private lives. Gossip is how Kanye West treats Kim Kardashian now that he’s divorced? And I think the challenge for ethical journalists is to get access to these articles and understand why they pursue them based on the news. , I think it’s not that hard.
Limbon: But there’s something to be said for the fact that, according to Vox Culture Reporter Constance Grady, who we’ve heard before, these stories aren’t necessarily intense.
Grady: But I think maybe moving away from around-the-clock coverage, first of Trump and then of the coronavirus pandemic, has opened up perhaps a little less traumatic topical space in news reporting. And in that void, you get stories that don’t make much sense, like the Good Morning America anchor cheating on you. Like, they’re adults. it does not matter. But there is this kind of joy and joy and fun (ph) just gossiping this kind of trifle. And I think it was kind of a relief for a lot of people to be able to take up more space this year.
Limbon: So celebrity gossip might be a welcome respite from the stressful news cycle. But what does this blurry line between celebrity news and news news tell us about our current media landscape?
GRADY: People have to cover something in the news. And now I think there’s a desire to talk about more frivolous things.I’m not saying all gossip is frivolous.About some cultural regressions that are more upsetting and worth unpacking. I talk.
Limbon: What do you think the gossip industry will be like? – Page Sixes and Daily Mails – Now when did their “beats” make their way into mainstream news?
GRADY: Interesting. I think this is good in many ways for the gossip industry. Because if the mainstream news outlet picks up an article, it increases interest in the article. And mainstream news outlets are unlikely to do exactly the same coverage as gossip-centric sites. They consider different parts of the story worth reporting. So if a mainstream site covers the slapping or the Depp and Heard trial in detail, it suggests that there is more and more interest in the story, leading more people to gossip sites. .
Limbon: You mean the gossip site will change? Likewise, do they lean into some of the more naughty tendencies, or just play as normal and reap the benefits?
GRADY: I think there’s certainly an incentive for gossip sites to lean into the more racy side as the mainstream press begins to report things in a more candid manner. That’s what we get to see a little bit right now in coverage of the Meghan Markle-Prince Harry Netflix documentary. And from the tabloids we get the kind of columnist who said Meghan Markle should be stripped naked and marched down her street while people yelled shame at her. – This kind of very vulgar and obscene…
Limbon: That was Jeremy Clarkson, right? was that his name?
Grady: That was one of them.
Limbon: I’m interested. So you have things like the Daily Mail, Page Six, and the Perez Hilton of the world, right? – something we all know and love. It’s also been a big year for DeuxMoi and the Instagram gossip world, right?
GRADY: Yeah, definitely. This is especially visible in stories like the Depp and Heard trial. The trial provided a powerful economic incentive for very small one-person manipulation on YouTube and social media. As long as they were Team Johnny Depp, a huge amount of money was made for people to build an audience by basically destroying Amber Heard and praising Johnny Depp. And you can see these outlets turning their attention to stories like the trial between Evan Rachel Wood and Marilyn Manson. Also about Prince Harry Meghan Markle. A lot of money can be made right now from this kind of misogynistic #MeToo backlash, outrage-driven coverage of these various famous women.
Limbon: How do you think our relationship as viewers has changed in terms of things like media literacy that distinguishes gossip from news?
GRADY: Good question. There seems to be a lot of confusion among the news-reading public about what sources are popular and which aren’t. . Facebook’s interface robs various sites of their visual branding. That is, something from a random little gossip website appears in your newsfeed like a carefully vetted and fact-checked New York Times article.
It may not always be the case, but anything you see on the internet, in print, out loud, or on video seems to acquire this aura of factuality. I don’t always seem to have a clear sense of when I’m reading and when I’m just reading gossip.
Limbon: What kind of stories do you think you’ll come up with next year?
Grady: Yeah, I think we’ll continue to see this #MeToo backlash play out in stories like the one with Evan Rachel Wood and Marilyn Manson. Also, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s lawsuit is set to continue, with similar backlash.
Limbon: Can I ask you a quick question about that? I’ve thought about it too. After the Britney docs dropped, right?
Limbon: And there’s a lot of navel staring in the media after the trial, right? – and I use media extensively here – like Perez Hilton and both late night talk shows and dadada (ph) – oh you know, just really oh oh me I think we talked about her and screwed her up. Do you think someone has actually changed?
Grady: Good question. People are probably trying more, but the public reaction to Amber Hears and Meghan Markles shows that there is still a huge appetite for shaming women who behave in public. think. what we don’t like. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. It may be the same as it has always been.
Limbon: I’m Constance Grady, senior correspondent for Vox.
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