Cameron Ian Quinn, Senior Media Correspondent
Citing slumping revenues amidst a massive surge in the market for mindless cultural media, the editors of People magazine have made an unprecedented decision to feature more articles about real people in its publication.
”It was a torturous decision for People to feature stories about people. Our readers feel a deep, emotional bond with their favourite movie, television, and reality television stars in addition to that they have with pop music acts. We are not going to deprive them of their desire to cultivate those long-established relationships. They are as powerful as they are real.” remarked senior editor Chet Witherspoon.
“But I had an epiphany after a night pounding Margueritas and Mai Tais at our Bali retreat: maybe Lyndsey Lohan and Britney Spears are not alone. Maybe non-celebrities also struggle with addiction, mental health, and body image. What rehab centres do they check into? Well, we are going to find out.”
Witherspoon said readers can expect hard-hitting features such as ‘Raising Chidlren Without Nannies’, ‘Home Life in Fifteen Hundred Square Feet or Less,’ and ‘Being a Nobody: How to be Frumpy, Overweight, and Free.’
“I believe it is a major leap forward for our publication that we’ve made this commitment to discover the mysteries of ‘Regular Joe’. I am excited by the journey. Look out Wal-Mart, here comes People, so say ‘cheese’!” exalted Witherspoon, as he performed a campy solo rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ from the previous evening’s episode of Glee.
Anonymous sources inside the magazine say the decision has not been well-received. Many have considered leaving the publication for greener pastures at Ok and Hello!
“The world needs a safe place where childish fantasies and aimless celebrity worship are freely indulged. Where serious stories about doom and gloom aren’t lining the pages to upset readers or make them feel there’s anything wrong in the world. Destroying dreams is for intellectuals at the New York Times, The Daily Show, and CNN.”
“We at People cater to those who never lost hope of one day finding their unicorn! Don’t get me started on Charlie Rose! He doesn’t even make his set look nice, it’s so dark and depressing!” screamed the source, becoming ever more despondent as he raised his clenched fists to the sky.
After composing himself, he continued.
“We need a place where people can see beach photos of Kirstie Allie’s rolls and close-ups of the cellulite on Julia Roberts’ ass. To find out how sloppy Johnny Depp or Jennifer Garner look when they step out to buy groceries on Monday afternoon. We turn gossip into facts. These things matter. There was a time when People stood for integrity. Who will tell the real story of Whitney Houston’s final days if we’re busy featuring Fran at the doughnut shop or Jimmy the plumber!!”
Another source, an intern, remarked “I came here to work my way up to being an intern for Entertainment Tonight, so yeah, I … I’m bummed, but … like … uh, experience is … exper…. “
The twenty one year old, a graduate of a two-month on-line media communications program, drifted off as her smart phone vibrated incessantly with incoming Twitter feeds. She could not be re-engaged for further comment.
Former staff writer Stu Jeffries believes the move is ill-fated.
“Yeah? Like I give two shits about some emergency room nurse? I watch Grey’s Anatomy. You wanna read about inner city teachers who make twenty three grand a year? Or bus drivers? What, like how they stay home and eat Shake N’ Bake pork chops and watch TV on a Friday night and shop at Target? Whatever.
People want to see where Kirsten Dunst is clubbing these days. How Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper eat sushi with style. How Adele curls her hair. What Ricki Lake’s poodle’s name is and why it does not look like a poodle. THAT, is news. I am so glad I left those losers for TMZ.com.”
Columbia University Cultural Studies Professor Dr. Che Kwame-Weingarten remains sceptical about the recent turn in the magazine’s editorial policy.
“I think it’s a way to further propagate the Corporatist zeitgeist in America, one that reinforces the false ontological narrative that we all stand an equal chance of reaping the economic rewards of capitalism, so long as we submit to its imperatives.”
When asked to qualify his muddling remarks, Dr Kwame-Weingarten continued, “By juxtaposing a nurse and a movie star, a retail sales clerk with a Grammy-winning hip-hop artist the delusion is: you are them, and they are you. A total fabrication. Resist tropes like People at all costs.”
In response to Dr. Kwame-Weingarten’s scepticism, Witherspoon quipped “zie-wha?”
Media News canvassed loyal readers of People for their feedback on the proposed enhancements to the publication’s regular features.
Gerry Brown, a truck driver from Pittsburgh, conveyed his apprehensions.
“Once, I seen a story they done on some fireman or something or other. I dunno, seemed kinda dumb to me. I just wanna see more of Katy Perry’s tits.”
Another, Madison Carter, was less enthusiastic “Ew, stories about losers who make, like, nine dollars an hour? Boring-gah.”
Overall fan support for the idea seemed tepid.
At the end of our interview, Dr. Kwame-Weingarten rose indignantly from his tattered wing chair as he shuffled me out of his office.
“Did it ever strike anyone, the irony of a magazine called ‘People’ that has sweet fuck all to do with actual people?”
The upcoming issue of People magazine, with its new “Regular People” segment appears in newsstands next week.
(Disclaimer: this article is a work of fiction and is not intended to reflect actual facts relating to the publication or its editorial policies.)