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Thread: Celebrity Gossip's Gender Gap

  1. #1
    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Default Celebrity Gossip's Gender Gap

    Celeb gossip gender gap
    Jun. 30, 2006. 09:37 AM

    Fact: Nicole Kidman got married this week.

    Speculation: If you already knew this, you are probably female.

    Further speculation: If this is news, you are probably male. And you are probably no longer reading this column.

    The other day, a conversation took place in my kitchen concerning Kidman's recent nuptials. Specifically, about how many months the marriage would last, especially considering the fact that the groom was a country singer, and the marriages between country singers and movie stars have not recently been known for their longevity.

    While I was present at this conversation, I did not contribute to it. But I did pay close attention while the two women in my household talked. Because it occurred to me this is something you'd never hear men discuss. You'll hear men talk about a lot of dubious nonsense — like sports, four-wheel drive vehicles, real estate and electronic equipment — but something you'll never hear in a locker room, sports bar or while standing at a urinal is this: "So, waddaya think the chances are that Kidman marriage is kaput by Christmas? Huh?"

    The business of celebrity, it will shiver no timbers to suggest, is massive. There are countless magazines and television shows devoted to it, and it has become such a predominant force in so-called entertainment journalism that, increasingly, it's the only "entertainment" news that matters. Film festivals are now judged by their celebrity quotient and not their films, celebrity-based entertainment items are now a staple part of every news program, bookshelves heave with celebrity trash, and I'll bet that only porn outstrips celebrity websites in sheer number on the Internet. Oprah Winfrey has been called the most powerful woman on the planet.

    Nothing new here, of course. Fan magazines and fan clubs have been around since before the 1920s, and celebrities have been warming the couches of talk shows, beaming from magazine covers and boosting TV ratings for decades.

    But while the business of celebrity has continued to both grow in scale and dubious influence — to the point where our cultural universe actually becomes unimaginable without stars in it — not much has been said about the role that skewed gender interest has played in its eclipsing ascendancy.

    From their beginnings, the fan magazines were directed at a female readership, women largely sent studio fan mail and the bulk of the earliest fan clubs were created by women for a female membership. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the two most powerful celebrity gossip columnists in the world were women: Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. Today, a vastly female audience consumes the main media engines that drive the celebrity machinery, celeb tabs and magazines, and afternoon talk shows. When it comes to product endorsements, there are many more female stars selling products to women than males to men.

    But the really fascinating thing is it's not just celebrity in itself that interests these media or the people who consume them. It's celebrity info of a particular kind: Personal stuff. Intimate stuff. Gossip.
    The other day, I snapped out of my customary supermarket queue trance long enough to scan the rack of magazines I was standing next to. Nearly every publication there was either about celebrity or featured one on its cover, all were clearly appealing to a female readership, and it was truly astounding how many of these magazines promised stories of a alarmingly personal nature. A number promised "candid" paparazzi photos of movie stars looking their schlubby worst.

    What gives here? These aren't just stories about the famous, they're stories about the frail human beings lurking inside the famous.

    They're stories about who's mixed up with whom, about whose marriage is on the rocks, and about who has had plastic surgery, weight problems, cellulite issues or eating disorders. About who's struggling with substance addiction or feeling betrayed by their superstar boyfriend. It's about speculating on the human — and human weakness — behind the celebrity façade.

    Naturally, men can be starstruck, too. But, judging by the almost complete absence of similarly intimate celebrity media aimed at men, the interest of male fans would seem not to be of the same order.

    Even the geekiest basement boy in the world is far more likely to know the serial number of some obscure space pod that appeared fleetingly in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones than he would know who Ewan McGregor was dating at any given time during production, or how many times George Lucas has been married.

    Consider sports, traditionally the largest arena of male spectatorial obsession. While I'm not a sports guy, I am a guy and that means I've been exposed to literally thousands of hours of jock talk in my lifetime. And while I've heard countless opinions, numbers, statistics, predictions, bets and angry rants about bad calls and such, I don't think I've ever heard anybody talk about whether an athlete's marriage is likely to remain intact until the Super Bowl, or if they've had plastic surgery. For many men, the public persona seems to count as much, if not more, than the person behind it. Or, to put it another way, the person is only interesting insofar as it pertains to the public performance.

    Let me be clear: I'm not making the case that men are generally more interested in matters of substance than women. All you have to do is look at Maxim magazine, go to a strip bar or watch Jackass to know that argument doesn't cut it. (If men are interested in the person behind the persona, it's usually the naked person behind the persona.) But it is overwhelmingly evident that women are interested in celebrity in a very different way than men are.

    Is it another manifestation of the "feelings" thing? Is the industry of personal celebrity chat a mass-cult expression of the fascination with matters of emotion, vulnerability and intimacy that women have been traditionally charged with having and that men, much to the equally traditional frustration of women, are supposed to lack?

    Do men not care about the emotional lives of celebrities because they tend not to care — as much, anyway — about emotional lives in general? And does this explain romantic comedy?

    Moreover, much as someone raised in the cultural crucible of '70s feminism hesitates to mention this, is there something to this myth of the female propensity for gossip after all? Are women naturally more inclined to be fascinated by the intimate details than men are? In the era of mass communications, has celebrity news become our society's equivalent of whispering over the backyard fence?

    By the way, I give the Kidman thing at least a few years. Just to spite Tom.

    "The howling backwoods that is IMDB is where film criticism goes to die (and then have its corpse gang-raped, called a racist, and accused of supporting Al-Qaeda)" ----Sean O'Neal, The Onion AV Club

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Celeb gossip gender gap

    Ewww this is hard. I think gossip has always been around but back in the 50's and 60's, the paparazzi had more respect. The media had more respect. I think as a general rule people had more respect. There has always been cheating and womanizing men: Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, John Wayne, heck, even Presidents of the United States. Look at John F. Kennedy! You name it, most of these celebrities cheated. Most smoked. Most drank. Most were philanderers. And men have left wives before and there have always been love triangles. Look at that whole Eddie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds/Elizabeth Taylor fiasco. Or when Lana Turner's daughter killed her lover. That must've been the OJ Simpson case of their time.

    It was accepted and it was something women had to put up with. You didn't discuss it and it wasn't something you wanted to disclose. After that whole Women's Movement I think things changed. All of a sudden women didn't have to shut up and women didn't have to put up with this crap. Women, in essence, got tired of being silenced. Now, any time there's something scandalous in the tabloids, we are so quick to judge and critisize because I believe we are not less tolerant of that behavior. I don't think it's that women have turned more gossipy. Women now voice it. Men have always stayed quiet. If anything, I think they have more fear now about doing those things because it's not as socially acceptable anymore. But I do also think that the world has become so 'ugly' and so difficult that celebrity fascination has grown because it provides an escape for 'our reality'---that life is hard.

  3. #3
    Gold Member lovely bones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celebrity Gossip's Gender Gap

    I think most guys don't care because they're too busy thinking about their wangs and when they're going to "get some" again.
    Claude os, aperi oculos!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Celebrity Gossip's Gender Gap

    I'm not too sure about this. I studied in a department with more than 500 men and less than 30 women, and us girls at the time were clueless about celebrity gossip. Meanwhile, the guys would skip classes at night to watch soaps and to gossip. Then again, they were Electrical Engineering students: we were all seen as weirdos, geeks and major nerds.

  5. #5
    Elite Member KandyKorn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celebrity Gossip's Gender Gap

    The other night, a guy friend of mine and I stopped in at the grocery store. He picked up a gossip rag and asked me "Will you put this in with your stuff so it doesn't look like I'm the one buying it?"
    As we sat just watching TV, he grabbed the magazine and spent an hour reading it! Maybe guys like it as much as we do but they're too 'manly' to come out of the closet about it.
    I'm not quite drunk enough to really care, but is this her violation of her violation of her violation of her violation of probation or her violation of her violation of her violation of her probation????? ~MontanaMama on LL's latest arrest.

  6. #6
    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celebrity Gossip's Gender Gap

    My husband always reads the rag mags when he thinks no one is watching.

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