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Monday, June 19, 2006

In Defense of The Superficial

I'm a fan of the website The Superficial (and other celebrity gossip blogs like I Watch Stuff and Best Week Ever). It skewers celebrities in a fashion that is mean-spirited yet self-deprecating. I wasn't really surprised to see that Bitch Magazine (which I write music reviews for as well as the occasional piece with friend Dirty Weekender) dissed my daily read in their recent Style & Substance issue in the article "Web Spite". Author Judy Berman writes "Countless sites-among them A Socialite's Life, Perez Hilton and The Superficial post candid pictures of famous, invariably female folks and then subject them to merciless critique. Although it could be argued that these sites help put American culture's worship of celebrity in perspective...that tends to be a byproduct of their real mission: to reduce female stars' worth to their physical appearance and fashion choices."

By poking fun at Ashley Olsen's get-ups and Paris Hilton's nipple slips, I disagree with the assessment that The Superficial makes a statement about women's worth based on their appearance. It skewers the inherent ridiculousness of celebrity culture, including their outfits and obsession with their appearance. Furthermore, to leave out from the discussion the point of view from which the site is written is negligent. Part of the site's appeal is the author's persona as loser and voyeur. He often portrays himself as a pathetic, Jessica Alba-worshiping, Kirsten-Dunst hating loser who has delusions of grandeur about his masculinity. I understand that Berman might argue that the author's criticisms are not intentional but still harmful, but it's not difficult for intelligent readers to ascertain that calling attention to inappropriate outfits only reminds us of just how out of whack the system of celebrity worship/disdain is. Enjoying the Superficial does not make me anti-feminist; it means I have a sense of humor.

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