The Toxicity in the tabloids

The story of Caroline flack taking her own life has been dominating the headlines this week. Between thousands of news headlines, celebrity tributes and a general conversation around mental health,this is one story that everyone has been talking about in some way or another.

In this blog post I do not want to focus so much on Caroline’s suicide but the tabloid culture that a lot of people are blaming for her death. Caroline’s death sparked a national debate about the media and tabloid culture, and their place within our society. Many people drew examples from horrendous headlines that had constantly been smeared over tabloid newspapers since the news broke that Caroline and her boyfriend had a physical altercation late last year.

Caroline’s death has rightly drawn attention to this problem, however tabloid hounding is in no way a new problem. The same few newspapers have been spiting out hate speech and marketing it as the “opinion of the people” for decades.

Another aspect that has somewhat been ignored in this debate is that celebrities are not the only people that are targeted in these newspapers. Tabloids often prey on the most marginalised and vulnerable members of society for their stories.

It was absolutely wrong how far the newspapers went to hound Caroline Flack. It was wrong when they stalked and slated musicians like Amy Winehouse.

It was also wrong when these same newspapers, hacked into the phones of murder victims and give their families false hope they were still alive. It was wrong when these newspapers lied about Liverpool fans and blamed them for the Hillsborough disaster. These newspapers are wrong everyday when they deliberately sensationalise stories on immigrants and people on benefits to whip up hate and create a false narrative. The lack of compassion and ethical reporting in these newspapers is and always has been wrong.

It seems to me however, even when faced with one scandal after another, these newspapers are still published and bought by a large majority of people. Why are people so accepting? Is it that these tabloids have been ingrained as a part of the UKs national identity? A reminder of “the good old days”? I mean it is easy to see how British identity could become so interlinked with these papers, they have had significant influence over the UK public and politicians for years. Little illustrates this influence more than a certain outlet claiming it was them ‘wot won’ the 1992 election for the Conservatives. Whatever the reason, the UK clearly finds it hard to let go of these organisations even in light of their wrong doings.

I am happy that at least out of such a tragedy, issues have been raised about the ethics of the tabloid media in the UK. I am less hopeful however that anything will actually be done about it. Year after year, scandal after scandal, the British public seem to forgive and forget all too easily, allowing us to face the toxicity of the tabloids once again.

The Philip Fallout

One of the biggest stories this week was the news that Phillip Schofield had come out as gay. Everybodyyyyy was talking about this, from my lecturers, to my class mates, to the Amazon delivery driver while I signed for my package!

First announced on social media and followed quickly by a discussion on Phillip’s day time show This Morning, the news came with mixed responses.

Many people were happy and encouraged him to speak out about his sexuality. However, there is always a debate rumbling in the media and Twittersphere (controversy on Twitter? Shock horror, I know). Many people were quick to criticise Philip and draw attention to how this impacted his children and wife of 27 years.

Many of these criticisms were presented with harsh language branding Philip as a ‘liar’ and a ‘cheat’ for marrying his wife while knowing he was gay.

Clearly there were a lot of homophobic elements to this abuse, hiding behind the defence of Schofield’s wife and kids. However, I think a lot of this also came from millennials (like me) who truly can’t remember a time when being gay was seen as something so terrible that it had to be hidden away at all costs. Therefore, a lot of people couldn’t wrap their heads around why Philip had chosen to ‘lie’ for so long.

I admit, I was quite naive to how the media and others treated LGBT people in the not so distant past. Scrolling through my twitter feed on the day that the news was announced I saw a headline from the Daily Mail that I could not believe was allowed to be published.

I looked at the date of this article thinking I would see something along the lines of the 50s, maybe 60s at a push, but no…1993. I was honestly shocked. This kind of thing was happening in the 90s? Three years before I was born? I found it hard to comprehend that this kind of rhetoric was casually published less than 30 years ago in mainstream newspapers. As I researched deeper, I found this headline was not the only one of it’s kind, far from it.

Another event that was taking place in 1993, when this article was published? Philip Schofield married his wife. These are the type of headlines and casual homophobia that Philip was up against at the time of his marriage. It’s not hard to see why he would want to keep his sexuality quiet.

I feel like a lot of people criticising Schofield for ‘lying’ to his wife were either too young to remember when attitudes like these were mainstream or weren’t born at all. Therefore, it’s easy to criticise Schofield’s decision to not be truthful with his wife.

A lot of the millennial generation (including me, if I’m honest) live in an echo chamber. Technology has allowed us to to tailor the information we receive to our own beliefs. Wether we only read the newspapers that support similar values to our own or only follow people on social with similar views, we often forget that there are and were opposing views on things that we see as mainstream.

The only thing that can be taken from such ignorance to the homophobia of the past is that our society is thankfully, rapidly moving on from those views. This was most clearly illustrated in the fact that for every occasional negative comment Philip received there were a sea of well wishers commending him for his bravery.

Why is there such media hype over a two year old’s birthday party ?

So nearly every news and media outlet has reported on the birthday party of Kylie Jenner’s 2 year old daughter this week, and the hype has been real.

The lavish party came with a warehouse full of amusement rides, sweets, activities and was completed with a scattering of huge inflatable faces of her daughter. (See below)

(yep, I don’t get it either.)

Anyway, I’m really not here to bash the kardashians, or their kids, at all. I have to admit I am no stranger to Keeping Up With The Kardashians and they have provided us with some very quotable content (Kim there’s people that are dying.)

What I really want to criticise though, is the media hype around such lavishness and outright excess. Let’s not forget, this was a party for a two year old child, who will most likely barely remember any of it. The resources and money that were pumped into this are extreme and instead of criticising, or even just ignoring its absurdity…as a society we give it attention and celebrate it.

I don’t care what any person chooses to spend their money on, but I do care that society and the media think it is of extreme importance to showcase these lavish lifestyles and hold them up as something we should aspire to.

It is very apparent where we are at as a society when events like this are so widely reported on. I believe it is a solid reflection of the Instagram curated semi reality we all live in now. As a disclaimer I’m not projecting a holier than thou attitude. Trust me when I say I’m as down the Instagram rabbit hole as anyone else (que picture of me “candidly” drinking coffee and staring out the nearest window at @aoifssss) (was that a shameless Instagram plug?) (Me? neverrrrr.) However, I do believe at some point we have to stop blurring the lines between what is real and what is manufactured. We have to start learning what really is important and what is not again…

And I think taking time out to celebrate a 10ft blow up face of Kylie Jenner’s two year old daughter, definitely is not.

Why is Britain so angry at Meghan and Harry?

So this is a story that has been dominating every aspect of the media for weeks. From the news, to television talk shows to internet blogs to twitter memes. People can’t get enough. It has spanned from factual reporting to all out slander and everything in-between, but why does Britain care so much?

It is pretty apparent that the media is putting the blame on Meghan for the Sussex’s sudden step down from royal duties. They are angry at both Harry and Meghan, but she is seemingly the one being hit hardest by the public and tabloid press. There have been many opinions on why this is, spanning from racism to sexism and everything else you can possibly imagine, however I believe there is one other large factor to take into consideration.

The Media and people all around Britain are angry, but what are they really angry at? Do people really care thaaat much that Harry and Meghan want to become more private and move to Canada with their new son? My hypothesis is No.

I believe there are deeper routed issues to blame here. The British are facing uncertainty in nearly all aspects of their lives due to Brexit, and they have been for quite some time. Nothing is clear. There have been more elections in the past few years than most people see in a decade. There has been nothing but complete uncertainty for three years, with Britain caught in a sort of limbo not knowing what will happen next. One thing that was not in limbo however was the monarchy.

I do not believe this media storm is solely about Harry and Meghan. Do most people follow the royal family extensively? Do every aspect of these royal’s existence really take a toll on normal everyday life for normal everyday people? If Meghan and Harry had secretly went to Canada and not done any public events and had not been reported on, how many people would really notice the difference? I don’t think the physical act of Harry and Meghan moving or stepping down is really going to impact any normal person’s life in a drastic way, but the idea of another solid system in Britain facing extreme uncertainty, does. It only adds to the instability the nation have been feeling for the past three years and people are angry that they don’t feel secure.

So, why is everyone so angry with Harry and Meghan? Because in times of uncertainty people need someone to blame and they are the easiest target.

Continue reading “Why is Britain so angry at Meghan and Harry?”


Hello! My name is Aoife. I’m a Postgraduate student and writer from Ireland!

I wanted to do something a little different with this blog! I wanted to go beyond the headlines of popular culture and examine why seemingly superficial stories on celebrities and internet memes are actually extremely significant to society!

Pop culture is not exactly seen as an academic study, and most academics like to pretend that popular culture events are insignificant and shallow. However, I believe studies and analysis of popular culture are one of the most important tools for accessing where the world is at right now.

In an era where we are constantly fed news stories through technology, it’s hard to see the significance in any of it. However, it plays a huge part in all our lives and affects us in ways we don’t even notice when we swipe aimlessly through our feeds of celebrity glamour and internet memes. In this blog I want to unpack significant pop culture events of the week and look at them in a different way. I want to look at what events are reported and what this tells us about society.

Basically I want to take a sociological view on what celebrity made the headlines this week and why the F*ck we all care so much.

I know that probably all sounds a little dim, but think of it as mixing all the most interesting bits of academic writing with all the guilty pleasures of trash we love to consume! (I mean, come on?)

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