November 16, 2006

Trash Mag Monitor

Indulge me; I have to do this.

Not because it matters, and not because it’s like watching a train wreck.

No, it’s more superficial than you could ever imagine.

I’m fascinated by the invented stories that appear in the weekly trash mags. They all do it, but none more brazenly than a mag called NW.

It used to be that NW specialized in outrageously speculative stories about the rich and air-headed, with each week bringing either:

(a) A brand new version of the exact same story from the previous week; or

(b) A brand new story, in total contradiction to, and with no memory of the story written the previous week.

Either way, it’s a tour de force formula of fabrication and the weekly editorial meetings must be a hoot. Well, then again, maybe not. Perhaps even they get bored with writing about yet another rumored pregnancy, rumored break up or break down, rumored wedding, etc. All accompanied by photographs and strategically placed giant sized yellow arrows - yes, we readers would have trouble finding the alleged baby bumps on so many whippet thin celebs; arrowed directions really help when the stomachs in question are self-evidentially more concave than sterling signifiers of fecundity. The giant sized yellow arrows are also of enormous assistance to the reader when underarm hair, perspiration, cellulite, loose skin, receding hairlines, coupled-up body language, or cocaine filled nostrils are being discussed.

This week NW excelled in plummeting to new depths of brazenness in their journalistic coverage of all things relating to asinine celebrities, fashionatas and insipid celebutantes. Yes, even I was left gasping for breath to find that they have suddenly started believing their own stories, making the leap from mere speculation to statements of fact, despite the only supporting evidence being their own fictitious stories from the previous week.

Here’s a very small selection from this week:

“Pregnant Kate Hudson faces the prospect of bringing up her unborn baby alone, as both her former husband and new lover leave her and move on.”

“Pregnant Angelina Jolie is furious after Brad Pitt left her alone in India while he headed to LA to host a booze-fueled party …”

[Is there any other type of party? – ed]

“Less than a month into her marriage, a pregnant Kate Moss has kicked out her new husband Pete Doherty after pictures of the recovering junkie cheating on the supermodel were made public."

There is no evidence for any of the pregnancies or marriage mentioned above. They have all been covered in NW in previous weeks – as nothing other than hyperventilating nonsense. For no reason at all, NW have morphed all of these areas of wild speculation into the realms of fact. Audacious, to say the least.

Some of the other breathtaking story lines in this week’s episode – oops, sorry, “edition” – include:

On Jessica Simpson

“Where Jess used to keep her phases of compulsive eating a secret, she’s now openly indulging – something she’s never done before. Spotted eating a substantial lunch Jess, 26, clearly didn’t care whether anyone was watching.”

[Meaning: a perfectly normal sized lunch, consisting of food, eaten in a publicly located food processing establishment. How very careless of her. – ed]

On Pamela Anderson –

“… recently fled a Malibu restaurant mid-meal after bursting into tears during an emotional lunch with friends, during which the actress told her pals about all the problems in her fast-disintegrating relationship. … “She was going on about how her marriage was doomed” says a fellow diner at the restaurant. “She was spilling her guts about how he disrespects her how he ignores her … how he refused to compromise on anything.”

Prior to the current episode of NW hitting the stands, it had already been reported and confirmed that Pammy had suffered a miscarriage; she was entitled to private and public tearing-up.

Using the very same photographs as shown in the “my marriage is disintegrating” invention, NW have finally caught up with the truth on their website. Expect a revised version in the hardcopy next week, in which they will do an excellent job of pretending that this week’s story never existed – most especially their gauche and nasty closing paragraph:

“With the short lived union looking likely to fail miserably, the pair must surely be breathing a sigh of relief that their potential break-up won’t be further complicated by the arrival of a newborn child.”

Ouch – I guess that’s what happens when trash mag journalists start believing their own make believe world of gossip stories: their sense of ownership and entitlement grows, along with their delusions about their work.


  1. Anonymous2:58 PM

    What's even more concerning is the fact that people believe all this CRAP.

    They must, after all they keep on buying these trash mags.

    Perhaps they are all living in a world of make believe too!!

  2. I don’t know about other people Kath, but I frequently have a queasy feeling that they DO believe these magazines, devouring the content with vicarious fascination, and perhaps even envy of ‘alternative’ lifestyles.

    For me, it’s like when we were little and a new comic book was a weekly highlight, before gaining maturity and progressing to MAD magazine. Now that I’m older, a publication like NW serves the same purpose: few words, lots of colorful pictures, easily digested and forgotten, a few relaxing minutes of relaxing escape from the real world.

    What I can never fathom is why some people buy ALL of the mags; you only need one - they each use the same photographs, the same line of gossip, with trivial variations, or even small digs about the "inaccuracy" of other mags (it's an incestuous little world).

  3. Anonymous3:47 PM

    "It's like when we were little and a new comic book was a weekly highlight, before gaining maturity and progressing to MAD magazine."

    Hey Caz! THAT'S exactly how it was for me too!!

    In fact, I remember back when I was nine years old and my teacher caught me reading my brand new Superman comic under my desk. He swiftly confiscated it and deposited it in the bin.
    I was heartbroken!! Heh Heh.

    And I agree , nothing wrong with a bit of relaxation and escapism.
    Heck I buy a mag from time to time too!

    I do however buy the Womens Weekly monthly!

    I enjoy trying their recipes , and reading some of their columns and articles. Not what you would really call a gosip mag I suppose.
    But hey it relaxes me and I chill for a while.

    Certainly doesn't tax the brain!

  4. Anonymous5:21 PM

    I love this post. NW is awful; truly awful. One almost feels like one needs a shower after reading it.

    However, even worse is Famous. They just totally make up stories based on what a person looks like (their expression etc).

    I was remarking to someone the other day that my Who Weekly collection is bigger than my book collection. Sigh!!!

    Actually, these magazines have a lot to answer for, but the questions just seem too big.

  5. This is great analysis; I don't read the NW regularly, but I love the way it cuts through all the bullsh*t.

    Of course, there are some magazines/publications that turn lying into an art. Apparently there used to be a Sydney tabloid publication called 'The Truth'. I have a rare 1970s publication called, simply, 'Lies' - (it features an interview with a skeleton giving dieting tips, and a two-page fold out 'LIES BOOK OF RECORDS'). And of course, there's the Weekly World News, which is outrageously over the top. Apparently it was the favoured journal of Douglas Adams.

  6. Um, correction:

    This is great analysis; I don't read the NW regularly, but I love the way it cuts through all the bullsh*t.

    I love the way this post cuts through all the bullsh*t, not NW.

  7. Ah, thanks for the correction Tim; thought you were being facitious the first time around.

    Tee, hee.

  8. Sheesh - I think I've fixed up all my typo's now folks. (Sloppy blogger that I am.)


  9. "(it features an interview with a skeleton giving dieting tips

    See, nothing has changed Tim!

    Ah, Darlene: we used to subscribe to Who mag. It was one of my daughter's favorites when she was in her teens, and I liked it too. Many boxes of the mag were duly packed for the trip from Canberra to Melbourne. Then when the Princess left home, custody of the collection was given to her. Not sure if she still has them, or if sold on eBay by now, or recycled, must remember to ask. It was a good mag, all those years ago. Not partial to it any more, mostly because I remember when it had good solid articles, combined with light entertainment.

    “Famous” - yeerrrsss, the johnny-come-lately of the trash mags. I bought the first couple of issues - as you do, when a new trash mag comes out - but stopped rather quickly when I realized that it was s blow-by-blow, picture-by-picture, re-run of everything in NW. I've never bothered to do the research to see if it's the same publishers, but, jeez, they're TWIN mags for gawd sake! How does that happen?

    The "expression" stories are not unique to Famous. NW does that a lot too. They had a beaut a few weeks ago: a pic of Angelina driving while on her mobile phone (a fact of which they expressed no concern at all). Well, the story was about her anguish over her sick mother. The photos were supposed to illustrate the anguish, and the reader was expected to imagine that the phone call taking place was Jolie talking to someone about her anguish over her mother. Jolie was clearly talking, and was snaped in mid-verbal-flow, with the type of expression that might normally occupy a face when animated by speech. That was all it was. She might have been talking to the nanny about designer jump-suits for all I know. I'd reckon an actress could muster up something a bit stronger by way of "anguish" than the irrelevant pics of her having a perfectly normal conversation showed. The mags pull these stunt pics all the time.

    Kath – see, we both still remember, ‘ey! When the day comes that we both start forgetting, we’ll know we’re gettin’ on a bit. :-D

    The monthly Women’s Weekly seems to be the only mag to have stuck to tradition, while continually modernizing. I don’t buy it, but have a gander at my Mum’s sometimes. The others have gone down some strange hybrid recipe & trash path. “No Idea” and the other, formerly, traditional women’s mag, have fallen into a unique depravity, as they desperately attempt to rival the likes of NW, yet feign respectability. It’s an ugly juggling act, to my mind.