Tabloids: Elvis is Dead

| March 1, 2002

Tabloids: Elvis is Dead, Joshua Gamson, American Prospect
Was that Bill Clinton sex photo in the National Enquirer or the New York Times? Or both? Joshua Gamson, writing in the American Prospect, comments on the creeping overlap between the tabloids and the mainstream press. In a culture where a sex scandal is treated as serious news, the National Enquirer, oddly enough, can bill itself as a respectable news source. Indeed, Gamson notes, the new book The National Enquirer: Thirty Years of Unforgettable Images contains few of the classic tabloid photos: actors caught with under-age girls, politicians discovered in front of porn stores, nude beach photos, gay sex scandals, and drugged-out celebrities. He sees the book as an indicator of a larger pattern, in which serious news and tabloid journalism blur together in a mass of glossy publicity photos and a fawning obsession with celebrities. '[The book] signals a quiet change in tabloids,' he writes, 'a pulling back from what is in fact an important role in American culture: as dishonorable debunkers of the publicist-painted image, as cheerful seekers of the unseemly.' Will the tabloid industry lose its scandalous, unseemly edge? Perhaps we just need another Michael Jackson sex scandal to straighten things out.
--Madeleine Baran
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