Thursday, October 9, 2008

Borebitch more like...

Continuing my critique of Observer's weekend supplements, we move now to their profile of Camilla Wright, founder of Popbitch, from Observer Woman (which, despite my criticisms, is the best woman's magazine in England at the moment. Fact.).

For those of you in the dark, Popbitch is a weekly mail-out of tabloid-esque UK-based celeb gossip, collated from the (severely under-developed) website's message board. Here is a look at last weeks edition:

As you can see it's essentially frivolous celebrity gossip, only half of which is likely true, which serves mainly to remind you that the weekend is around the corner (Popbitch is delivered on Thursday afternoons). So far, so shallow entertainment, right?
Unfortunately not.
The thing is, despite the Observer's protestations to the contrary, Popbitch is painfully un-hip. The celebrities they cover are eternally C-list (think vaguely famous footballers, page 3 girls, reality TV "stars" etc.), they insist on reporting endless asinine "sex" stories involving animals, and they seem to think Mick Hucknall is still newsworthy. Reading Popbitch is like being transported back 5 years to when Jade Goody was popular and X Factor wasn't pre-suicide viewing.
It seems clear their target audience is not the savvy, brutally fickle, finger-on-the-button 18-25 year old hipster demographic it was when they started. Rather, Popbitch appears to be aimed squarely at the nostalgia-hungry, kitsch-loving 30-something audience. People who think Snickers were better when it was called Marathon. People who have the Knightrider theme as their ringtone. People who had never heard of social networking sites until Facebook came into their lives. While Observer Woman would have us believe that Popbitch is the originator and leader of online gossip communities (yeah. right.), in reality Popbitch is to modern gossip sites what porn DVD's are to internet porn - out of date and soon-to-be obsolete, despite a small group of followers.

Consider, for example, that their biggest celebrity "scoop" thus far is STILL breaking the Beckham infidelity story 18 months before everyone else. Bear in mind that every other paper reported the scandal in 2004, which means Popbitch must have reported it in mid-2002. That's 6 years ago. Six long Britney/Anna-Nicole Smith/Amy Winehouse/Speidi filled years and they've not managed to top this??
Furthermore, the reason Ms. Wright is being interviewed for the article in the first place is to promote the publication of the first ever Popbitch book released next week; a publication which will likely join the likes of South Park T-shirts and Billy Bass the singing fish on Christmas lists for anyone who likes to live a good half-decade behind the times. For instance, inside this cutting edge tome of hot-from-the-press salacious gossip one can find a dress-your-own cut-out of this guy:

Pete fucking Burns.
He who was famous for about a week when he appeared on Celebrity big brother nearly 3 years ago. I mean Christ above, what are the dress-up accessories for him going to be? A Janet Jackson nipple ring? An Angelina Jolie vial of blood necklace? Hey Popbitch, did you also hear that BRITNEY AND MADONNA KISSED!?! omg!

Also inside the book is a stuffed animal recreation of the moment when Montecore the white tiger attacked Roy, of Siegfried and Roy. In case you've forgotten this wildly relevant celeb incident, that's because it happened 5 years ago in October 2003. I wonder what other shocking celeb revelations will be included - J-Lo spending a night in jail? Nicole Richie getting really thin? Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt DIVORCING?!
Popbitch is so stuck in the past it makes John McCain look like Nick Jonas. Do they not realize that gossip media, particularly web-based gossip media, has to be ridiculously up-to-date? Gossip sites are made and broken solely on their ability to get news stories just hours before their rivals. While the rest of the celebrity sites are reporting on the latest saga from The Hills, Popbitch are probably still wondering if Mandy Moore's new single will be a hit.

In a way it's not their fault, their type of gossip medium has been superseded. As they're released weekly, they haven't the immediacy of rival websites that are updated every 10 minutes or so, nor have they the exclusive pictures and tangible aspect of magazines. Essentially they have no unique selling point and this will be their downfall - which is why it's so strange that the Observer has chosen now to do a piece on them. I realize it's all marketing, PR and connection-based, but profiling the head of a dying breed is still an odd choice to make for a supplement so intent on keeping up with the kids and remaining fashionable. Why not interview the creator of Friends Reunited and the designer of the Mini-Disc while they're at it?

In all honesty, though I'm a subscriber, I barely read Popbitch anymore, I usually just skim to the bottom to see if they've any good links (rare) and to read the joke at the end, which can be surprisingly good on occasion. Plus, it's appearance in my inbox still has the aforementioned effect of getting me excited over the forthcoming weekend, so it's worth it for that alone. But Popbitch, I'm afraid your days are numbered, learn from the mistakes of your beloved Jade and Pete Burns - leave now why you still have your dignity.

On a side note, not to sound too snarky, but you'd think after 8 years covering celebrities, Ms. Wright would have learned a thing or two about posing to one's advantage for portraits. Clearly not:

Girl needs to start listening to Tyra ASAP...

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it. Right on the money. You read popbitch so i don't have to.