Friday, February 29, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Hounded by the Media

I think we have all noticed Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan on plenty of magazine covers followed by articles documenting their crazy behavior. But have we ever considered the possibility that these women are covered more in the press because of double standards the media might hold? I just read an article called “Boys Will Be Boys, Girls Will Be Hounded by the Media" on the New York Times’ website where they compared media coverage on women to men. The author, Alex Williams, compared celebrities such as Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Owen Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Nicole Richie, Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, and Colin Farrell amongst others. He argues that when male celebrities mess up, get convicted of crimes, or “fall from grace” as he called it, they are treated with gravity and distance. When a female celebrity does the same, they receive less sensitive treatment from the media. The author interviews an entertainment report for who says “female stars tend to make more-compelling stories because ‘they are emotional and open’ about their problems”, where as males are more careful or wary to do so. A really good example of this “sexism” is with Heath Ledger’s death. There was a lot of media coverage about whether he was a drug user and also on his ex-girlfriend and daughter. The author starts out the article by stating that there is a video of Heath Ledger hanging out at a drug-fueled party two years before his death. After pleads from Michelle Williams, Ledger’s ex-girlfriend and other fellow celebrities, to not show the video, it was not shown. To any type of media, this type of evidence would be must-see material. Interestingly enough, the magazines argue this type of coverage on female stars is logical according to the demographics of their audience. Apparently 90% of People’s readers are female. I would like to argue that female stars are not all that women like to read about. Most women read tabloid magazines because they are interested in what is going on in other peoples’ lives, especially celebrities. But not every woman cares about Britney Spears. 

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