Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

People. People Who Don’t Need People

People. People Who Don’t Need People


by Walter Brasch

From a pool of about seven billion, those hard-working geniuses at People magazine have managed to find the hundred most beautiful people in the whole wide world. And—get ready for the surprise—almost every one of those beautiful people are rich American celebrities.

For almost two decades, People’s editors believe they have been given the divine right to anoint who they believe to be the most beautiful people on the planet. The ethnocentric celebrity-fawning People editors are so secure in their self-imposed knowledge that they don’t even tell us what criteria they used to make their determinations. Not even an “editor’s note,” common in most magazines.

For the first few years, People etched their version of reality into our minds by attaching cutesy capsulated biographies to full page color pictures of the most beautiful. This year, the writing is minimal, the design is almost to the level that a good college journalism or graphics arts student could create and, except for a few full page and two-page spreads, most pictures are no bigger than thumbnail size.

Leading off the 69-page special section is actress Kate Hudson. Advance stories about her selection appeared in just about every American newspaper and major website, all of which think stories about celebrities are more important than stories about the recession. Also on the list are Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher, and Norah Jones. The seven member cast of TV’s “Gossip Girl”made the list. “Onscreen,” People told us, “they are gorgeous, scheming, backstabbing high schoolers.” Just what America needs. More future business executives and politicians.

The first few years, when the magazine editors could find only 50 beautiful people, there was a fairly even split between men and women. This year, about 90 percent are women. Except for six athletes (three men and three women), the rest are actors, singers, dancers, and models.

Three years after the first list came out, People recognized the elderly. Of course, the elderly were Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, and Barbara Babcock. This year, there’s a special two-page black-and-white spread deep in the magazine on pages 174–175 for 40 celebrities, 10 in each of the categories of 20s, 30s, 40, and 50s.

People once selected size 5-foot-11 size14 model Emme as a beautiful person. It championed her as representative of the “burgeoning large-size modeling industry.” Of course, these vacuous editors have no idea that a size 14 isn’t large—it is the average size of American women. This year, the only large size models are in full page ads for Jenny Craig diets and Curvation underwear, which declared, “Style starts with the Side Shaper Underwire bra and shaping panty.”

Teachers, social workers, and medical researchers, no matter how beautiful, didn’t make this year’s cut. But, they shouldn’t worry about it. Neither did Miss America, Miss USA, Miss World, Mr. Universe, or, for that matter, Miss Crustacean, Ocean City, New Jersey’s, salty tribute to hermit crabs, and a spoof of the beauty contest that once inhabited next-door Atlantic City.

People magazine may need people to justify its US$254,000 full page advertising rate. But, people, even with insatiable curiosity about celebrities, really don’t need People.

*************

[Walter Brasch is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University and president of the Pennsylvania Press Club. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available through amazon.com. [http://www.amazon.com/Sinking-Ship-State-Presidency-George/dp/1419669508/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209980790&sr=1-1] You may contact Brasch at brasch@bloomu.edu or through his website at: www.walterbrasch.com]

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Scoop HiveMind Project: Universal Basic Income - Are We Up For It?

This is an opportunity for you as one of the 4 million potential funders and recipients of a Universal Basic Income to collectively consider the issue:
1. Is UBI is a desirable policy for New Zealand; and
2. How should a UBI system work in practice. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: National Announces Plan To Hit Youth With Big Mallets

The National party has announced its youth justice policy, which includes a controversial plan for recidivist serious youth offenders to be hit over the head with a comically large rubber mallet. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: This ->

It's been brought to my attention that Labour's new campaign slogan is "Let's do this". A collective call to action. A mission. I myself was halfway out of the couch before I realised I wasn't sure what it was I was supposed to do. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Hivemind Report: What New Zealanders Think About Affordable Housing

Ordinary citizens have had very few venues where they can debate and discuss as to what they believe has led to the crisis in affordable housing and how we might begin to address this. The HiveMind on affordable housing was about redressing the balance. More>>

ALSO:

New Hivemind Exploration: Opening The Election - Freshwater Quality

This is an opportunity for you as one of the 4 million guardians of our common water resources to help us find mutually agreeable solutions to the critical task of collectively managing these resources for health and sustainability. More>>

ALSO: