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Perez and More: Celebrity Gossip Blogs

There are hundreds of celebrity gossip blogs, providing a way for the average citizen to expressing feelings about celebrities and even establish celebrity of their own(Podnieks 2009: 53).  Celebrity culture has been altered by the gossip blog, becoming a core part and gaining prominence over traditional gossip outlets. (Fairclough 2008)  This blogs “ exert a considerable influence on the way that celebrities are mediated in a contemporary media culture (Fairclough 2008) Instead of a passive consumer or a third party source, “ today, the gossip blogger becomes both the producer and consumer of the celebrity, offering a route through which to deconstruct the celebrity image, while also contributing to, and even reshaping its cultural connotations. (Fairclough 2008) Part of what is unique about these digital gossips is that, unlike magazines, they are not beholden to any journalistic standards (Fairclough 2008.) It is practice, like Jezebel to report unsubstantiated rumors. There is one segment called Blind Items, where they list rumors about celebrities, leaving out their names and allowing commentators to discuss their guesses.  The lack of journalistic objectivity also increases the involvement of commentary, reflecting personal beliefs in the depiction of others (Podnieks 2009:63). For Jezebel, this means they do not just report news, but comment in a way that is shaped that their declare goals and feminist tendencies.  This looser structure also allows for a stronger involvement from readers, who contribute content and opinion. (Podniecks 2009: 65) This engages readers of gossip blogs in a process of sharing and group blogging that make it socially appealing (Podniecks 2009: 65)

These celebrity blogs have also been a product and contributor to the growth of what Fairclough calls “Bitch” culture. (2008) Fairclough’s description of Bitch culture- acerbic and terribly clever- resonates with the description of Jezebel’s snark. (2008) Fairclough’s description of a celebrity blogger matches some of the phrases used to describe Jezebel  (like here)  “ outspoken, flout codes of courtesy and are fiercely opinionated” (Fairclough 2008) Ironically, against its manifesto, Jezebel does engage in the micro level criticism of female celebrities, which is a trademark of the modern attitude towards female celebrities in gossip blogs in these “Bitchy” discussion.   These celebrity’s blogs offer cutting remarks to critique celebrities. (Fairclough 2008) However liberal Jezebel claims to be, they are policing social norms by calling celebrities (and others) out on their social deviance.  With this bitch culture, celebrities are often called out for being “train wrecks” and carefully scrutinized.  A recent headline about Kim Kardashian illustrates this bitch culture, prefacing an article about her response to critiques by actor Jon Hamm by saying “Stupid Person Responds Stupidly to Jon Hamm Calling Her Stupid” (Beckman 2012).

However, celebrity bloggers need to be careful before going too far down the path of negativity. Perhaps the most famous celebrity blogger si the self-appointed “Queen” of gossip- Perez Hilton.  Hilton is widely read, and focuses on the details of celebrity lives. He built his reputation based on the sharpest of the “Bitch” media voices (Fairclough 2008). Perez went further then Jezebel ever has, editing photos to show penises and drugs on celebrity faces and calling them cruel nicknames. However, after the rash of gay teen suicide, Perez had a change of heart about his cruelty and declared that he could not fight bullying while being a self-described bully. Since then, Perez has focused on creating a more positive image.  He announced the change on Ellen DeGeneres show, and then posted this YouTube video.  So far, Jezebel has weathered most of their storms without major change. It will be interesting to see in the future if Jezebel follows in Perez’s footsteps and tones down their social critique.


Beckman, Leah. “Stupid Person Responds Stupidly to Jon Hamm For Calling Her Stupid.” Jezebel. Gawker Media, 12 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <;.

Dobrow, Larry. “Lets Hear It for Women Who Suffer No Fools.” Ad Age Media Works. 13 March 2008. Web.  20 March 2012 <>

Fairclough, Kirsty. “Fame is a Losing Game: Celebrity Gossip Blogging. Bitch Culture, and Post Feminism.” Genders. 48 (2008) Web. 18 April 2012. <;

Hilton, Perez. “I’m Going To Be Doing Things Differently.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2012.<;

Podnieks, Elizabeth. “Celebrity Bio Blogs: Hagiography, Pathography and Perez Hilton.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 24 1 (2009): 53-73.


Snarky, Much?

What unites all of the different sites is the self-described “wickedly delicious” prose, which both draws in and repels readers and critics. (Who Are We)  Jezebel itself is noted for its sharp prose and makes no attempts to soften its information.  The New York Timeshas described Jezebel as “certainly cutting, and frequently incendiary”. (Mascia 2010) In an interview with New York Magazine, one of Jezebel earlier writers Moe Tkacik explained the writing style and general attitude toward the more neutral style of other media.  “Quite frankly, fuck discretion…. discretion is why women’s magazine editors persist in treating their fellow humans like total shit; and when you’ve spent a career trying to catch others in their own indiscretions, discretion just feels a little dishonest and superior.”  (Grigoriadis 2007) This candor may have Tkacik’s downfall, after she was let go following a controversial interview (Wayzn 2010) )This attitude to uncensored ideas and prose creates the “snark” that Jezebel prides itself on.   The blog does not pander, but according to current editor-in-chief Jessica Coen Jezebel’s “readers are not condescended to, but leveled with.”(Mascia 2010) Jezebel seems to frame its website not just as a source of news but as one of the few sources of unfiltered truth.  For others, this sharp tone can be seen intentionally trying to cause controversy. (Gould 2010)  Indeed, Jezebel “suffers no fools” and “packs no punches” but “is frank and unapologetic about sex, drug use and other topics.” (Dobrow 2008) Instead of calculated criticalness, some view that Jezebel’s tone is established “by writers who are pushing readers to feel what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism.” (Gould 2010)  As a result the tone can be read as  “less sisterhood-is-powerful than middle-school clique in-fight”. (Gould 2010)  (More about Jezebel critiques and controversies in a later post)

The site further specifies the tone with detailed guidelines for commentators on the site.  The guidelines emphasize that Jezebel is reaching a tone that is sharp, but still expects commentators to be respectful. A commentator can earn “starred” status by offering comments that are repeatedly promoted by other readers and approved of by the editors or one of the group of readers who serve as moderators.  (Coen 2010)  The guidelines reflect the controversial nature of some of the content  and the cruelty that comes occasional with digital anonymity. This is not in a traditional sense of being nice to others, but cautioning people to back up any critiques they have, and not to get involved with so-called “shitstorms” on the site that surround controversial issues. (Coen 2010) Jezebel does not hesitate to deactivate the profiles of commenter’s that have offended them or have become overly engaged in controversial postings, which the site has been critiqued for. (Wazny 2010:14-15) This also creates a hierarchy of commentators and insures a consistency of tone. (Wazny 2010)

Works Cited:

Coen, Jessica. “Commenting On Jezebel: Rules Of The Road.” Jezebel., 27 Aug. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <;.

Dobrow, Larry. “Lets Hear It for Women Who Suffer No Fools.” Ad Age Media Works. 13 March 2008. Web.  20 March 2012 <>

Gould, Emily. “How Feminist Blogs like Jezebel Gin up Page Views by Exploiting Women’s Worst Tendencies.” DoubleXX. Slate Magazine, 6 July 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <;.

Grigoriadis, Vanessa. “Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass.” New York News & Features. New York Magazine, 14 Oct. 2007. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <;.

Mascia, Jennifer. “A Web Site That’s Not Afraid to Pick a Fight.” New York Times, 12 July 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <;.

Wazny, Katelyn M. “Feminist Communities Online: What it means to be a Jezebel.” B Sides 8 (2010): 1- 23.

“Who We Are.” Gawker Media. Gawker Media. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <;.