You know that common complaint about Saturday Night Live, that the skit goes on long after the premise or joke stopped being funny? Well, that’s kind of what’s been happening with “Tab Hunter” here at Tabloided. During the past few months, Tabloided has been a collective effort of some writers here, so we created a collective byline (one, we thought, that was a clear and obvious joke.) We’ve maintained strict standards of accuracy throughout this process. We have not written anything under the byline that we would not have attached our own names to. After some confusion from TV producers and even potential employers, we’ve decided that “Tab Hunter” needs to retire. It was a terrible pun anyway, albeit a fitting one for a column about tabloids. I’ll be writing the Tabloided section for the foreseeable future, and if anyone else is penning the column, his or her byline will appear (The writing style should be pretty similar. After all, I’m the incarnation of “Tab” with way too many parentheticals.)
So, who the heck am I? My name’s Heather Muse, and I’ve written for a number of magazines and alt-weeklies over the course of my career. Media criticism is my main beat, as I’m a doctoral candidate in Mass Media and Communication at Temple University. My dissertation looks at media coverage of the 2004 Boston Red Sox and the cultural myths and rituals perpetuated in the coverage of the team and its first World Series win in 86 years. And yes, I realize I’m living and working in “enemy territory.” Outing myself as a Red Sox fan is harder than outing myself as “Tab Hunter.”
It’s only fitting that this “transfer of power” would happen the same day New York gets a new governor. You’d think that would be the front page of the tabs today along with more coverage of the horrific crane collapse, but that’s not the case. Instead, we get another salacious scandal. New Jersey’s “Love Gov” (does that remind anyone else of that as-seen-on-TV gem the “Ove Glove”?) Jim McGreevey and his wife Dina participated in threesomes with McGreevey’s chauffeur and “boy toy” Teddy Pedersen, a story The Star-Ledger broke yesterday . Pedersen tells the Post that he has already talked about the trysts under oath as part of a deposition in the McGreeveys’ divorce case. Dina Matos McGreevey claims that she was tricked into a loveless marriage because she had no idea Jim was gay. Pedersen’s testimony implies that Matos McGreevey did know her husband’s sexual orientation before he came out as a “Gay American” in 2004.
The Post is going all-out with this story. They managed to get an interview with Pedersen, so the whole front page is dedicated to the “BED FELLOW.” The News puts the McGreeveys’ “3-in-a-bed sensation!” on the front page, but its coverage is just a quick rehash of the Star-Ledger story. The News chose instead to concentrate on the crane disaster, with a photo of victim Odin Torres, who is one of the three people still missing in the rubble.
Today’s stories actually allow us to see how both tabloids really shine. The News is great with these construction disaster stories. (Their coverage of the Trump Soho collapse a few months back was exhaustive.) They attack it from all angles: a timeline of the collapse, complete with illustration; a profile of Torres, one of the missing in the rubble; an exclusive interview with the firefighters who pulled victim John Gallego out of the rubbled (Gallego is the last person to be pulled out alive); a rundown of some of the safety violations the New Jersey contractor operating the crane had received recently; and a piece on those displaced from their homes after the collapse.The Post meanwhile, touts its photos of the crane taken one hour before the crash, an eerie “CALM BEFORE A CATASTROPHE,” as the truck headline states. The Post also features some interviews with friends of the victims as well as a rundown of the site’s “unlucky 13” safety violations.
Tabloids may stick with the lurid and sensational, but they’re just so damn human. As loathsome as it is to admit it sometimes, this stuff is appealing. We like to gawk at the Love Gov and his peccadilloes. We want to know about the lives of those who die in a freak accident. After all, it could have been us.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 17, 2008