Today’s NY Times has an article exploring the double standard when it comes to covering the trials and tribulations of famous & infamous women and men. There is a justification for the reasons behind tabloid media monitoring every coffee purchase and psych ward stay of Britney Spears and begging off airing video of Heath Ledger attending a party where there were drugs present:
Some editors confirm that they handle female celebrities differently. But the reason, they say, is rooted not in sexism, but in the demographics of their audience.
The readership of US Weekly, for example, is 70 percent female; for People, it’s more than 90 percent, according to the editors of these magazines.
“Almost no female magazines will put a solo male on the cover,” said Janice Min, the editor in chief of US Weekly. “You just don’t. It’s cover death. Women don’t want to read about men unless it’s through another woman: a marriage, a baby, a breakup.”
To me, a bigger reason why Britney Spears and her issues make her a tabloid media poster girl and actors like Heath Ledger and Owen Wilson are treated with a little more kindness.
When the extent of Owen Wilson’s depression was revealed, his family rushed to his side and formed a brick solid support system to protect him from the harsh media glare. Yes, People did a cover story but the public isn’t being subjected to weekly updates on Owen Wilson’s fight with depression. He’s allowed the space to heal in private and with some semblance of dignity.
And I have a feeling that Entertainment Tonight‘s refusal to air the Heath Ledger tape was probably due to a Ledger family member or representative calling the show’s executive producer and asking for empathy during such a tragic time.
In comparison, Britney Spears’ parents called Dr. Phil McGraw to talk to their troubled daughter. Dr. Phil! I can’t imagine that a TV doctor was the best person for them to call. A TV doctor who immediately decided to devote an episode to Britney Spears in light of his ‘in-depth’ session with her.
Now let’s examine two other women who have been subjected to tabloid infamy– Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
Again, it goes back to the family.
The Hilton and Lohan families seem to value the spotlight over the emotional health and maturity of their children. Of course, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are grown women but the behavior of their families
during their troubles seem out of touch with the idea of building and maintaining a well adjusted family life.
From the media coverage, I get the feeling that Spears and Lohan were the breadwinners for their families for so long that after a time, seeing them as girls in need of guidance was a completely foreign concept. Where I would see a flesh and blood human being with certain talents, needs and flaws, their families saw dollar signs and more dollar signs. Spears and Lohan have given so much to their families but I wonder what did their families ever give to them?
The Hilton family doesn’t need Paris Hilton to provide their income but she provides something equally valuable in this entertainment crazed culture: celebrity. Granted, Hilton can’t breathy sing and dance as well as Britney or act as well as Lohan (I’m a Mean Girls fan) but she has milked celebrity (even if it’s the pseudo kind) for every last drop it has to offer her no talent having butt. And, to the Hiltons, that’s worth something.
So yeah there is a double standard. Some families see their children as human beings to be loved, nurtured and disciplined (when necessary) and others see their children as bank accounts where they can make constant withdrawals, depositing nothing in return.