Tabloids: Elvis is Dead

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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