Actress Jennifer Aniston just shared what prompted her to write her viral Huffington Post essay on the absurd and misogynistic approach tabloids take when writing about women.
Speaking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, Aniston said she initially wrote the op-ed for more therapeutic reasons, when in the immediate aftermath of her mother’s death she found herself mobbed by paparazzi due to a so-called ‘unflattering’ bikini shot that, unbeknownst to her, had been making the Internet rounds as fodder for body-shaming.
“Another wonderful photograph, which I’ve had to sort of live with for the last 10, 15 years,” Aniston said. “Picture of me with a bump and circle around my stomach with an arrow pointing to it, just this sort of disgustingly objectifying kind of way. And I was just fed up with it.”
She ended up publishing it because she felt so strongly that the tabloid industry, plus society in general, needed to take more responsibility for the narratives it ascribed to women – reducing them to bodies, or love lives, or potential motherhood, or purported petty fights.
“We as women do a lot of incredible things in this world other than just procreating,” Aniston continued as the studio audience broke into applause. “And not that that is not … but we just get boxed in. They love the narrative, they love the story, the love the ‘she’s jealous of this person,’ and ‘this person’s depressed,’ and ‘oh my gosh, never going to have a child.’ Whatever the horrible little headline is, we’ve just got to break out of that and go ‘whoa, whoa.’ And women, I have to say, are many of the authors of these horrible articles that are written in these BS tabloids. So, we have to stop listening to them and we have to stop buying them because we have to support each other, especially at this time, to love each other, to support, and to be proud of women, of whatever your choice is in life. It’s up to us what makes us happy and fulfilled.”
No word on whether “especially at this time” was a Trump-specific dig, though that certainly does seem plausible.
Tabloid journalism tends to emphasise topics such as sensational crime stories(1), astrology, sports, gossip columns about celebrities, and junk food news(2). Trivial information and events are sometimes misrepresented and exaggerated as important or significant. The content and subject matter typically doesn’t affect the lives of the masses and doesn’t affect society, but instead is printed to attract viewers and readers.
Tabloids are often referred to as “tabloids”, “gutter press”, “red tops” and “yellow journalism”.
(1). Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in which events and topics are over-hyped to increase readership numbers. Some tactics include deliberately omitting facts and information, appealing to emotions and being controversial. Sensationalism may include reporting about generally insignificant matters and events that don’t influence overall society and biased presentations of newsworthy topics in a sensationalist, trivial or tabloid manner.
(2). Junk food news is a critical term for news stories that deliver sensationalised, inconsequential trivia at the expense of serious investigative journalism. It implies a criticism of the mass media for distributing news that, while not very nourishing, is cheap to produce and profitable for media proprietors.
Broadsheets tend to employ a traditional approach to news that emphasise in-depth coverage and a sober tone in articles and editorials. They provide extensive details or news about a particular person, business, group (lobbyist) or government and will often hold them accountable for their various dealings.
They report and investigate stories related to political corruption. Such investigative journalism is always supported with documents, interviews with responsible witnesses, and other primary sources, which makes it expensive to produce.
Broadsheets are often referred to as “serious” or “quality” newspapers.
|Don’t take a serious approach to news. Report on gossip and celebrities. They are selective and deliberately don’t provide all the facts.||Take a serious and in-depth look at the news. They have little to no coverage on gossip or celebrities. They are impartial and provide all of the facts.|
|Don’t do a lot of investigative journalism.||Do a lot of investigative journalism.|
|Provide basic business and political coverage.||Provide detailed and extensive business and political coverage.|
|Provide detailed and extensive sports coverage.||Provide basic sports coverage.|
|Sensational – they often play on readers’ emotions.||Factual – they provide the facts without the emotion.|
|They try to sway readers’ views.||Don’t try to sway readers’ views.|
|Political – will often favour a particular political party and be seen to support that party in their editorial and overall news coverage.||Have a more independent approach. Don’t openly support a particular political party.|
|Use simple vocabulary and slang, e.g. cops, mob, crooks, skint.||Use more complex vocabulary and very little to no slang, e.g. police, group, criminals, poor.|
|Uses puns and play on words, e.g. “Hunger Games devours box office”.||Rarely use puns.|
|Will champion the cause of a poor or elderly person.||Generally don’t champion individual causes.|
|Maintain a tight control over readers’ comments. Will only publish those that agree with the paper’s views.||Don’t control readers’ comments. Readers post directly onto site uncensored.|
|Uses photos to accompany many stories.||Rarely uses photos to accompany stories|
|Referred to as “tabloids”, “gutter press”, “red tops” and “yellow journalism”.||Referred to as “serious” or “quality” newspapers.|