October 28, 2010
They’re just like us!

"My brush with a person who later became famous" is, like, the most basic tabloid journalism story in the world. Ditto "I had sex with a person who later became famous." (There are even times when "I went out with a famous person" counts as "legitimate" journalism! I mean, Clarence Thomas’ ex-girlfriend’s memoir would not otherwise warrant a Washington Post mention, right?) But it gets grosser when the celebrity or future-celebrity did nothing "wrong" and the teller acted in some way reprehensibly (and the act of telling a story of a celebrity’s harmless private behavior counts). Because then the story doesn’t have a "point." (Except the point is that you’re reading it!) It gets much, much grosser when the story is packaged and sold in such a way that you think you are supposed to feel that the celebrity did do something wrong, but that something is entirely normal and unexceptional behavior. (It’s even worse when the fucking headline actually lies to you about what the story contains — I guess I thought that at the very least Gawker had an aversion to actively bullshitting its readers.) And obviously it is grossest of all when it is explicitly, weirdly misogynistic.

The sad thing (in addition to the existence of people who think and act like Anonymous, which is itself a sad thing) is that a smart editor — or an editor who gave a shit about the integrity of the site in addition to the site’s mission to run stories that will get a lot of attention — could’ve handled this in a way that didn’t end up being both an endorsement of slut-shaming and a promise of salaciousness that the story doesn’t actually contain. (In other words: Would you give Page Six shit for this? Yes! Or at least Hamilton would, I guess, maybe no one else cares anymore.)

But what kills me is you could’ve gotten the uniques cake without eating the justified near-universal condemnation too if you’d just been like “One Douchebag’s Sleepover With Christine O’Donnell” instead of presenting it in the earnest first-person like a “Modern Love” essay from The LateNightShots.com Magazine. I mean that still wouldn’t be “defensible” as a piece of legitimate journalism or whatever but this doesn’t work as an exposure of some sort of hypocrisy as is so just sell it as silly Halloween pictures of the crazy witch lady.

Buying an inane tale of the time some guy got drunk with someone from the TV is still stupid and sad of course but Gawker’s got no reason to pretend to be above that aspect of modern tabloid culture.

I guess I am convinced that there was a way to wallow in our toxic celebrity culture without feeding the toxic misogyny that drives so much of it. And I very well could be wrong about that!

(Obviously Nick fundamentally doesn’t care but the idea used to be to have someone between Nick and the reader who does care.)

  1. chetmanley reblogged this from pareene
  2. nickdouglas reblogged this from choire and added:
    I feel so beat and ready to have different life goals.
  3. carolineeand reblogged this from atencio
  4. thecasuallookofindifference reblogged this from pareene and added:
    Alex Pareene regarding anonymous...popularly followed Senate candidate published online...
  5. katiebakes said: i would WRITE “i partied with joe biden, and then i tried to sex him but he was like dude, have you SEEN my wife?”
  6. pareene posted this