Blog

This Just In! : A Tabloid Genre Analysis

Tabloids have been a staple in pop culture for the past century. Their flashy headlines, juicy stories, and garnered controversy surrounding those stories have made a big impact on the writing industry. Writing the latest tabloid is an art that is not explored very often. It takes a certain formula to write the perfect tabloid. This formula ends up defining the conventions of this genre. The tabloid industry is not all peaches and cream though. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the genre from false reporting to accusations of racism and sexism. Tabloids might look like just another trashy magazine but they have made an impact on how writers use this genre’s basic conventions to promote their work.

In order to write a good tabloid, a writer has to follow the specific conventions to the genre. According to the website Writer’s Digest, writing a tabloid is an art with specific key aspects that are unique to the genre. One of the key aspects is that the headline has to be eye-catching. Writer’s Digest columnist Peter Reilley states “Boring is the cardinal sin of tabloids” (Reilly). Instead a tabloid writer wants to have a headline that will be eye-catching such as “Headless Body in Topless Bar” or “Tiger Puts Balls in Wrong Place Again”. The next key aspect was to make a long story short. According to Writer’s Digest, you have “to take 10 pages of notes and distill them into one page of copy packed with fascinating details, illuminating background, and hard-hitting action.” (Reilly). The readers wants short and sweet so the more you narrow it down the better. The next two key aspects were to use active verbs and have fun with puns. Active verbs give the headline that bounce it needs. Readers would rather pick up a magazine that says “Cops busted Robert Downey Jr. for drugs,” than “Robert Downey Jr. was taken into custody by police for the possession of an illegal substance.” Similar to active verbs, puns have a way of making the headline seem more interesting to the public. When actor Harrison Ford was dating a much younger women, the tabloid magazine Star referred to him as the “Raider of the Lost Cradle.” The readers had a kick out of this funny play on words.  These key aspects are what defines the genre conventions of a tabloid.

Tabloids may be just be a trashy magazine to some readers but it influences genres that have similar conventions such as newspapers. Newspapers are similar to tabloids because they also rely on flashy headlines to get sales at the local convenience stores. They write their stories in a way that’s less flashy but still captures the point. Tabloid topics such as actors assaulting celebrity photographers, rumors of actresses having eating disorders, or celebrities having surgically done body parts always make their way into newspaper headlines. Even though this influence is small, it goes to show that tabloids have a great impact on what we pick up at our local convenience store. The tabloid genre also has an influence on the internet. Now more than ever, more readers are getting their news from online sources and social media platforms. The tabloid industry has adjust to these new norms by making their stories marketable to online communities. This requires them to mesh their original conventions of the genre to create their own social media accounts on predominate social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. That way the tabloid industry can grow and evolve within the writing community.

A tabloid’s target audience are women ages 18-50 who want something to read to keep them busy while waiting for their hair to be done or the doctor to be ready to see them. The people who write this genre usually work in the tabloid industry or are paparazzi trying to get an in on the latest celebrity scandal. As a member of the discourse community, my role is to consume the information in the tabloid and analyze how it impacts our society. Tabloids bind us together. For example, two women are waiting to get their hair done and are reading the tabloids that are near the coffee table. One woman starts a discussion about how a celebrity got a nose job. The other woman starts a conversation on how another celebrity punched a paparazzi in the face. They start to talk about more content in these tabloids and it eventually turns out to be a full-blown conversation. Tabloids are made to use their flashy materials to create a conversations revolving around their shocking content.

Tabloids have to run the flashy headlines with the most shocking stories. In order to get those stories, they may have to exaggerate the truth or full on lie in their stories when it comes to big scandals such as break-ups, marriages, and pregnancies. This has become such a problem that the website Gawker has decided to do a test to see whether these tabloid publications (US Weekly, Life & Style, In Touch, OK!, and Star) would lie on their covers as well as in the issues. All of the covers and all of the content scored less than 50% in the telling the truth category. This goes to show that the tabloid industry thrives off false information to get their revenue. Consumers have to know that most of these stories are based off lies but they do not care because they want the story to sell so badly that they do not care if about the validity of the information. In fact, there is so much lying in this industry that it is hard for tabloid writers to have other writers take them seriously. According to a disgruntled ex-tabloid writer Krista Bradford, buying stories is “a tradition” and they will do whatever it takes. Truth is rarely a concern when revenue is on the line. She also mentions that once you are in the genre it is hard to get out of and it damages your reputation. She said “I met with network news people and they were telling me frankly the tabloid thing was quite a problem”. Genres that tend to focus on more serious work have a hard time taking the tabloid industry seriously.

Although tabloids are a staple in the writing industry, they have also caused a lot of controversy. One of the first controversies is the blatant sexism that appears in the headlines. When talking about women celebrities, headlines are often focused on their body parts, clothing choices, and overall appearance rather their professional or social achievements. To challenge this notion, the literary magazine Vagenda, decided to have their followers take sexist tabloid headlines and re-create them without the sexism. For example, one tabloid’s original sexist headline said “It’s a bit nippy out! Rihanna shows off her nipples…AGAIN” was changed to “Women goes to sports event wearing a top”. This example showed how the tabloids always focuses women’s body parts even in the most unessacery situations. Another example was the tabloid’s original sexist headline was “She’ll do anything for Girls! Luna Dunham shows off her body in unflattering shorts as she films hit show” to “Hugely talented writer continues to work on hit TV show”. This example not only degraded Lena Dunham’s appearance but used her hit TV show Girls as a pun to downplay her accomplishments. This is the type of sexism in the tabloids is degrading to women because it focuses on what’s on the outside rather then what is on the inside. A newfound respect for women must be acquired in order to gain more respect in the writing community.

From a passerby’s view, a tabloid is nothing but a trashy magazine consumed by young adult women to kill time but that could not be further from the truth. Writing a tabloid is an art. The tabloid writer has to figure out a strong headline and with an eye-catching picture and write juicy, outrageous stories that will keep the reader hooked and give the reader material to talk about with others. The tabloid industry has quite the reputation. The first issue that comes to mind is the lying that is rampant in industry. Nearly, every tabloid lies. The other problem that seems to be rampant is sexism. When talking about other women, the tabloids tend to focus on clothes, body parts, and overall appearance instead of their achievements. This is particularly degrading to women because women are more than just their body parts. These issues do not deter tabloids from making an impact on how gossipy writing is shaped from generation to generation. The reason why tabloids sell is because the hype surrounding their content which other genres have accustomed too. Despite its negative reputation, the tabloid genre has shaped the way writers capture the hearts of their readers.

10 Positive Affirmations

1. I am happy.
Life is not easy. There are things in my day to day life that evoke negative emotions. If I allow the negativity to take over, it has the potential to destroy my mind. To combat negativity, I try to think of one happy thought every day. One happy thought can turn my whole mood around and lead me into a positive direction.

2. I am healthy.
Being healthy is important to me. I want to live a healthy lifestyle mentally and physically. I value working out, eating right, and getting a good night’s sleep. These things have increased the quality of my life and made me a more positive person.

3. I am secure.
I consider myself to be a very secure person. I do have some insecurities but they do not get in my way of me reaching my full potential. Being secure is a rare quality in today’s society. I find this quality of mine to be very profound.

4. I am worthy.
This is my favorite affirmation because it shows that despite all of the struggles that I have had to go through, I am still worthy. My feelings are still valid. My struggles are still real. I am still a human being.

5. I am blessed.
When I think about my life as a whole, I realize that I have had a lot of good things. I have done a lot of things. I have accomplished many goals. I have had many fun adventures. I have been to a lot of places. I am very blessed.

6. I am grateful.
I am grateful to have a roof over my head. I am grateful for my loving family and good friends. I am grateful that I am healthy. I am grateful for my past education. I am grateful to be alive.

7. I am beautiful.
Not to brag but I am beautiful. It seems like whenever a girl expresses a likeness to her looks, people say she is being vein. I think she is loving herself. Loving yourself is the key to a happy, successful life.

8. I am confident.
I am confident that I will land the right job someday. I am confident that good things will come my way. I am confident enough to do the things I want to do even if I am doing it alone. I am confident enough to be my true self.

9. I am courageous.
I face the things that scare me head on. I push for what I want without fear of judgement or backlash. I do the things any other 23-year-old would do while facing the stigma that surrounds my disability.

10. I am positive.
The last affirmation circles back to the title of this piece. Positivity attracts positivity. If you have a positive mindset, good things will come your way.

The Reality behind Media Violence

Violence is a common theme seen amongst popular media today. For years, people would see or hear about assailants shooting their victims, read about domestic violence, or pretend to be killing army men while playing a video game, but could those violent instances happen in the real world? The answer is yes. Violence that transpires on these various media outlets also can occur in real life too. Society sees this travesty play out but one particular type of media outlet serves as a predominant factor in the amount of violence our world sees today. Almost all non-fiction media outlets are an important contributor to the amount of violence on this society. This type of media makes our society aware that violence is not just a concept portrayed in fictional stories but a real threat if it is not taken care of properly. Non-fictional media outlets portray real-life violence by showing violence as a normality.

Violence is often portrayed on reality television as a way to entice the viewers to tune in. Even though the genre is reality television, these violent instances are usually scripted by the producers to fabricate each conflict in hopes that the show will become popular. How violence is portrayed in these shows is the wrong way because the public is lead to believe that violence is the answer when all it does is harm the people around them. Television executive Jennifer L. Pozner, argues that reality television is made up of “straight, single gals who are pathetic losers and we’re led to believe that it’s hilarious when they get mocked, dumped, or punched in the face.” (Haggerty 693). It is sad that this quote is an accurate depiction of this generation’s reality television. The fact that television networks like to exploit and make a mockery of people’s personal lives is extremely disturbing and sets a bad example to its viewers. Another concern is the fear that reality television’s young, naïve viewers would want to model the inappropriate behavior presented on these shows because they see that no one is stopping the cast members to exchange in such conduct. From Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi getting punched in the face by an abrasive club-goer on Jersey Shore to Kelly Hyland slapping Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms, violence on reality television is only getting worse which increases the likeliness of its viewers to use violence as a solution to their problems. Reality television increases the chances of every-day violence by affecting how society perceives the violent actions reality television has to offer.

The news has a major impact on the way Americans view violence because it brings attention to its frequency. Each news station reports the local and national news surrounding them and the top story usually involves violence. Whether it is a shooting near an apartment complex or a mother killing three of her children, violence always consumes every news outlet. At first, the news was bringing awareness to violence, but now our society is suppressed with so much violence that the original message hardly exists anymore. Now, our society sees violence as a common theme and does not see or care about the consequences that violent actions can have. The amount of times violence has appeared on the news is so frequent that the media does not realize “that exposure to media violence causes leads to aggression, desensitization toward violence and lack of sympathy for victims of violence, particularly in children” (Pozoios 2). The news is an anchor in this movement because they are normalizing the concept of violence in our society causing people to be desensitized from the effects that violence is supposed to create. This is especially a concern for the next generation because technology allows access to news anytime and anywhere so no one can escape the amount of violence that is shown on a daily basis. This constant exposure to violence gives them a greater chance of committing violent acts when they get older. The news desensitizes our society to the effects of violence by over-using violence as a way to hooked on the news.

As much as the media subjects society to violence, the media also has the ability to hide violence as well. For years the public has had suspicions that the government was hiding or lying about violent incidents that they have started or have happened to other people. There was one story that was particularly interesting and relatable to this topic. A couple of years ago, CBS correspondent, Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by Muslims while on the job. The mainstream media chose to hide this incident because they were ashamed that someone who worked for a big corporation could have such a vile act done to them. This incident caused CBS to have a four-day “delay” of the information which.. indicates that CBS intended to hide the story… to protect Logan’s identity so this story would never see the light of day” (Replogle 798). CBS’s actions regarding the story showed the world how the media can control what violent material is shown to the public and what is kept a secret. However the media prefers to show more violence then not because “the media.. shapes markets, and they therefore they have created and continue to reinforce the demand for violence” (Potter 23). All media outlets want to create and produce projects that the general public would find eye-catching and human nature determined that violence catches the public’s interest. The demand for violence has had negative effects on our society and if we do not change this now, we will create an oblivious, insensitive society.

Plenty of people have experienced negative effects on media violence but the violence shown on documentaries gives society an insight on how the violence is started. War documentaries give people an inside look on the negative long-term effects that violence creates. The war documentary Atomic Wounds shows the initial effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how this incident still affects them to this day. The documentary gets up close and personal with the victims of the atomic bombing and shows the cost that this viscous act had on its long-suffering casualties. As a society, “we often forget that the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima we’re living and breathing humans….We see a statistic. This film ensures that we remember that there is only misery under those numbers” (Faun, par 6). There are also documentaries that contain violence for the purpose of addressing major issues. Child of Rage is a documentary about a women named Beth who suffered from intense sexual abuse when she was a little girl. Beth describes all of the violent things she has done or wants to do which includes killing her brother and abusing her pets. By emphasizing violence in the documentary, the viewers get a detailed look on the consequences of sexual abuse and how the heinous act affect its victims for the rest of their lives. Such high levels of violence can cause someone who thought about sexually abusing a minor or sexually abusing a minor to reconsider his or her actions. Even though documentaries cover a widespread amount of issues, they all have one thing in common: they shine a light on the negative effects of violence and encourage society to stop violence once and for all.

There is no escape from the wrath of violence. It is shown on the television, displayed on social media, and often experienced in real-life situations. The media plays a huge part in the increase of violence because of how it is portrayed on all forms of non-fiction media. Violence being on this type of media is causing people to be immune to its effects because instead of a story, it is portrayed as a reality. The media uses violence to gain popularity and bring awareness to the issue but if it constantly brought up then people will be desensitized to the violence and ignore the situation at hand. Instead of constantly showing violence, all non-fiction media outlets should inform people on the dangers of violence and what mental, physical, and legal consequences violence can bring. It is time that all non-fiction media outlets take a stand against violence.

Me Before You: A Movie Review

Disabilities are a complex thing to understand. Some disabilities affect a person mentally other disabilities affect a person physically. Despite disabled people being present in our society, they are often not present in mainstream media. That was the case until a movie came out that portrayed a disabled man as the love interest. Even though it attempts to be good disability representation, it is far from it. The movie Me Before You is a love story between a disabled man, Will Traynor, and his caretaker, Louisa Clark, as they take on his last few months to live. Although this sounds like good representation, it is not because multiple disability advocacy groups have criticized the movie for enforcing the belief that life with a disability is not a life worth living. This further enforces how the concept of a person having a disability has been misrepresented or nonexistent in the media for decades.

The movie starts out with Will being bitter over his condition. His bitterness is so deep that he calls Dignitas to perform an assisted suicide. This bitterness is softened when he meets and falls in love with Louisa. Things seem to be turning around for him but he ultimately chooses death due to the fact that he could not bear to live with his disability any longer. His decision to die reinforces the concept of having a disability as a burden to society. It also capitalizes on the selfish theme society gives disabled people. Will’s decision to die left Louisa so mad that she did not speak to him for the rest of the vacation. Society basically gives people with disabilities this dangerous rhetoric that they are, at their best selfish, and at their worst inferior. Will’s decision to end his life was based on his feelings towards his disability. Not everyone might agree with his decision but they should not condemn him for making this tough decision. Mainstream media silences any controversial opinion made by a disabled person then proceeds to condemn them for thinking outside the box. That their existence should be focused on fitting into the society’s stereotype of what they should be or they should give up on themselves.

Another thing that I wanted to point out was that the actor who played Will was not a disabled actor. Furthermore, he was white, fit, and good looking. This is the standard lead male role we see in every major motion picture which is extremely problematic in this movie. The media uses their power to make sure that the fit, white male stereotype is used in major motion pictures even if the character they are portraying is not a fit, white male. This hasty casting decision was made because film and television don’t hire disabled people as actors, writers, or behind-the scenes people which hinders accurate disability representation on screen. It makes it harder for the disability to be portrayed accurately because their reference point is always a neurotypical’s interpretation of the disability. The media uses this power to dilute our perception of people with disabilities with hot, white men just to get viewers not realizing that consequences of their actions.

One major stereotype that disabled people have to face is the needy stereotype. People with disabilities are often viewed as lesser then therefore people always assume that they need help. This often comes with disgust, aggravation, and annoyance which was the emotions that Louisa would often express when taking care of Will. Tensions become high when Louisa overhears Will’s mom talking about Will’s suicide attempt. She takes out this anger while taking care of Will prompting Will to feel even worse then he did before. It made it seem like Will was a burden to her even though he could not help that he was in that condition. This theme brings the idea of power which caregivers often have power over the disabled despite caring for them. This is often met with the rhetoric that society’s stigma of people with disabilities incites not only sympathy and pity for the caregivers, but also horror at the neediness imposed on them. The media plays a powerful role in this rhetoric by portraying disabled people as the problem when it’s the stigma against disabilities portrayed by the media that’s the problem.

Overall, the movie Me Before You was a huge misrepresentation of people with disabilities. To have a hunky white male actor portray a disabled man only fuels the fire of the inaccurate representation of people with disabilities. The themes of neediness and selfness come to play to denounce and dehumanize Will. The worst part about this movie is that Will makes the decision to die because his disability is too much of a burden for him. It shows that it is socially acceptable to view death as better option rather than living with a disability. There are plenty of disabled people who make the best out of their circumstances despite the backlash they receive. The stigma is what is pushing disabled youth to become depressed, bitter, and suicidal. This movie could have done so much more for the disability community but instead it succumbed to society’s narrative of what a disabled person’s place in society should be.

I’m Back

Guess What?
I’m back!

Did you miss me? Hopefully, you do because I learned so much since the last time that I posted on this site. I have done so much since April 2018 and I have to share this with my audience. If you have liked my previous posts or followed my account before, welcome back. If you are new to this site, I suggest that you read this post to know a little bit about myself. Let’s get started.

When I first started this site, it was for a project in my Participatory Media class. Now, I decided that it would be a good time to revive the site as a personal freelance writing blog. I kept majority of my original posts because I liked what I wrote. They showcased my writing ability while simultaneously showing off my personality. Unfortunately, I had to discard some of my posts because they were either too trashy or too serious for my blog. You live and you learn right. I will be posting more of my own writing more frequently and trying to build my personal brand in the process.

When I first started this site, I was a college senior trying to achieve my Bachelor of the Arts degree in Communications. Now I am a college graduate with a part-time job as an Administrative Assistant for a hedge fund. This job was not easy to find. I applied to over 100 jobs via Indeed, LinkedIn, Career Shift and more. I went on over 25 job interviews to only be told “no” for whatever reason. I did not give up and eventually I got a job that would start a foundation for my career. Nobody told me it would take seven months to get my first adult job but in those seven months, I learned a lot about myself as well as the world around me. For that I am forever grateful.

When I first started this site, I was a student. Now I am an adult. Most people do not think this difference is drastic but when you have gone to school for 20 years, that is all that you know. It is the only routine you have been accustomed too. When you are done with the school system and left to your own devices, it feels odd. You do not know what to do at first then slowly figure it out as time goes by. I still do not have it all figured out. I am working on it.

Overall, I am excited for 2019. I am looking forward to working at my job. I am excited to advance my career. I am excited to embark on a new journey into freelance writing and hopefully get some career opportunities out of that. I am excited to start this new chapter in my life. Hopefully, it will be a good one.