Celebrity gossip has come a long way since Walter Winchell wrote in the late 1920s what was essentially the first-ever syndicated celebrity gossip column. For decades since Winchell started it all, magazines and newspapers carried celebrity gossip columns that gave us the dirt about famous people on a regular basis. From their latest sexual exploits to what they wore to what awards show or posh event, we devoured it all and asked for more celebrity gossip.
Right to this day, our obsession with celebrity gossip has never waned. Never mind that a lot of what we read or hear about them are just made-up. As long as a rumour about a certain movie star or professional athlete sees print, we, the readers accept it as gospel truth, and no amount of denial from their spin doctors could convince us otherwise.
The Internet and Celebrity Gossip
The advent of the Internet has added another dimension to the way we get and process celebrity gossip. The celebrity gossip column has, in effect, jumped from print to cyberspace and made it even more of a spectator sport. In the last ten years, we’ve seen a plethora of blogs dedicated to telling the whole world at record speed who got knocked up, who’s seeing whom, and what they look like when drunk or high, among many other things. However, it’s the rise of social media sites that has effectively changed the face of celebrity gossip, if only for the fact that it has given the celebrities themselves the ability to address us, the public, in the most direct manner possible.
Hundreds of celebrities have taken to Twitter like moths to a flame. And these Tweeting celebrities are using the microblogging service to the fullest, from denying or confirming rumours to sending shout-outs to other celebrities and fans alike. Twitter has certainly made the lives of celebrities easier, but it has done the exact opposite to gossip-mongers online and otherwise. With Tweeting celebrities, columnists and bloggers have very little choice but to rely on celebrity Twitter feeds to get a story. The concept of a “scoop” has become stranger by the day to these people, who once were our undisputed and reliable source of dirt about our favourite celebs.
Celebrities on Facebook
Facebook is also a popular social media tool among many celebrities. Just like with Twitter, celebrities on Facebook directly address any rumours as well as communicate with their fans. All a fan—or a hater, for that matter—has to do is “Like” the pages of celebrities on Facebook and they will instantly get access to pictures, videos, stories and statuses, all direct from that particular personality. They can comment on anything, but they have to practice a little self-control when passing comment on the pages of celebrities on Facebook, or they will find themselves blocked faster than they can say “Mark Zuckerberg”.
As of today, celebrity gossip columns in print media and celebrity gossip blogs online continue to exist. But with the ever-increasing number of celebrities taking to social media to directly talk with fans and haters alike, will celebrity gossip columnists, bloggers and PR agents eventually find themselves without a job in the not-too-distant future? That remains to be seen.