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mattbrowne's avatar

Why are gossip magazines so popular?

Asked by mattbrowne (31588points) June 21st, 2009

From Wikipedia: Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. In the last decade, gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip is an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity.

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24 Answers

Facade's avatar

Because of nosy people like me :)

Tink's avatar

Hello who doesn’t like gossip about famous people

RedPowerLady's avatar

I don’t read them myself but I could offer up a guess.

Sometime it is relaxing and refreshing to get caught up in someone else’s life.
For example, when I was going through some deep trauma in my own life I sincerely appreciated people coming over and talking about what was going on for them. It’s almost like getting caught up in a good book except it’s got more of a reality to it.

Jeruba's avatar

I guess they appeal to certain vulgar instincts. I don’t really know. They aren’t what appeals to my vulgar instincts.

Clair's avatar

@Jeruba I heard that.

Nially_Bob's avatar

At an educated guess I would say that gossip magazines are popular simply because there is such a variety of reasons for people to enjoy them. Some may find the stories of celebrities entertaining in the same fashion that one may enjoy reading a fictional book with the celebrities in question being the characters. Others may feel a sense of schadenfreude (perhaps followed or preceded by a feeling of moral superiority which would encourage a pleasing ‘ego boost’ of sorts) when reading about the shameful activities of particular people. There are some who enjoy living vicariously through celebrities etc. Given these three illustrative groups alone, the potential target market for gossip magazines is considerable to say the least.

kenmc's avatar

Because people have been conditioned to idolize idiocy and put their attention towards ridiculous endeavors.

Darwin's avatar

If people believe that being a celebrity is a wonderful thing, then they may feel envious of those who are celebrities. Hence, reading the latest “dirt” is a way to feel superior to those “undeserving stars.” Gossip makes them seem “just like us.”

Never mind the fact that being a celebrity means you can’t run out for toilet paper in the middle of the night unless you are fully made up and dressed in designer duds.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@boots An optimistic perspective on the matter my friend?

kenmc's avatar


I don’t believe there is one…

Nially_Bob's avatar

@boots Is that a yes? heh. I myself am naive enough to believe that there is always an optimistic perspective in any matter; whether it’s the most rational perspective is often questionable.

teresacuervo's avatar

Because they don’t have a life. If they were busy building something for themselves or improving themselves , they would not have time for that stupidity.

kenmc's avatar

@Nially_Bob Then I envy you.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@boots “Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy” – Heraclitus

mattbrowne's avatar

Dentists seem to rely on it, making a visit and the time in the waiting area more enjoyable. Some people bring their own books, though.

wundayatta's avatar

Envy? The beautiful and famous seem like they must be so different, and it is reassuring when it turns out they make the same mistakes we do. Cluck, cluck. Tisk, tisk. We are so much more moral than they are.

Darwin's avatar

Yes, envy. The rest of us don’t live in multi-million dollar mansions, avoid airport angst by chartering private jets, and have full-time “people” to take care of the details of life such as bill-paying, cleaning, cooking, make up, physical fitness, and child care. We envy what we think that would be like and feel better when we know they, too, have cellulite, look bad in a bathing suit, drink too much, and can’t keep it in their pants (or under their skirt as the case may be).

jeanna's avatar

@boots For some, the idea of gossip is merely an escape from reality, which I must say is a better alternative than drugs.

As for the question, dare I say the answer is quite obvious? As has been mentioned above, there are obviously many reasons why the lives of others seems to be quite an important subject. It’s a little of everything, and not one person on this site, or in the world, can offer the best 100% accurate answer.

As for people who claim to never take part in gossip, well, if only the walls could talk….

yal's avatar

more of an escape from your own life and problems and to read about some one elses and compare your self to them. its entertaining and benefical as you see yorself better off then that person.
i love gossipe mags i buy around four to 5 amonths but what i feel while reading them could be different to anyone elses. overall they are meant to entertain people and keep up to date with what is happening in cleberities life we envy

kenmc's avatar

@jeanna The drugs/magazine comparison is a false dichotomy.

Why not yoga? Why not writing? Why not music?

Drugs isn’t the only alternative for escape.

jeanna's avatar

@boots We can argue until we’re blue in the face about addiction and how anything we become addicted to is bad. However, last I checked using yoga, writing or music as an escape (or being addicted to those things) hasn’t killed anyone….yet.

So yeah, we can use lots of things to escape, but the most common three are drugs, alcohol and sex.

Linda_Owl's avatar

They are popular due to the shallow stupidity of the people who purchase them & ‘read’ them.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

we like to focus our attention on other people’s lives. we like to see other people – especially famous, glamorous, ‘important’ people making mistakes and doing scandalously normal things (buying tampons! oh em gee! they walk their dogs? wtf!). it’s an escape for some people i guess.

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