How was your weekend? Pretty normal? Normal is a comforting word. But, right now, normal could be a dangerous word. On Last Week Tonight last night, John Oliver warned against “normal”, the normalisation of what happened last week, and the looming threats that can and could result should that normalisation continue. How, though, does celebrity contribute to that normalisation?
Anne Helen Petersen, for Buzzfeed, argues that PEOPLE Magazine started normalising it on Wednesday morning, hours after the election, with its new cover featuring Donald Trump and accompanying online articles about Ivanka Trump’s “way too cute” family and Melania Trump’s “best style moments”. The cover itself was super “normal”, with a deliberately diverse group of citizens photoshopped behind the President-elect as he strides towards the camera in a way Christina Cauterucci, writing for Slate, described could have “been an installment of the Sexiest Man Alive series”.
All last week I posted about the Sexiest Man Alive as we approach the time of year PEOPLE typically reveals its annual selection. And I noted that that selection process always involves the MiniVan Majority. PEOPLE has normalised the Trumps for the MiniVan Majority. Or, maybe, the MiniVan Majority, on whom PEOPLE depends heavily, compelled PEOPLE to normalise the Trumps, despite the fact that one of their former reporters, Natasha Stoynoff, was allegedly sexually harassed by him in 2005. PEOPLE insists that they will continue to stand by Natasha while, I guess, helping to normalise a man who apparently thinks it’s OK to help himself to any pussy that he considers grabbable and who just revealed in his first interview with 60 Minutes that he would appoint to the Supreme Court a justice who would move to overturn Roe v Wade, thereby limiting a woman’s right to govern her own reproductive health. If PEOPLE is the magazine for the MiniVan Majority, compelled to cater to the will of the MiniVan Majority, then, as Anne Helen Petersen writes, this “suggests that as much as People caters to women, and often reports and profits from women’s trauma, that trauma matters less than the opportunity to celebritize a man”, not only normalising misogyny but glamourising it too. The most highly circulated and “respected” celebrity magazine, then, is an agent of normalisation, by and for the MiniVan Majority. The majority rules. Because it’s not like celebrities are going to stop talking to PEOPLE. Are they?
Click here to read Anne Helen Petersen’s piece on how PEOPLE Magazine became home to the MiniVan Majority and click here for Christina Cauterucci’s piece on how PEOPLE Magazine is already in the tank for Donald Trump’s America.
Yours in gossip,