Thursday, June 28, 2007

The iPhone and Angelina Jolie

While everyone has been linking to blog.pmarca.com, I have been resisting the temptation to link to Ron Rosenbaum's article in Slate, "The worst celebrity profile ever written?"

I finally found an excuse.

Ron's article is about Esquire's recent "fawning" profile on Angelina Jolie. But it could have well enough been about iPhone's pre-release reviews.

The money quote summary:

"The rules of the game, as established by the glossy magazines and the stars' PR reps, ensure that 'access' [to celebrities / the iPhone] ... and the all-important exclusive cover shot are granted only to those magazines and journalists who will refrain from anything but fawning prose. It works out well for everybody. Celebrity journalists who play along get a good payday, magazines get newsstand sales bumps, and the rest of us are inculcated into the received myths of Celebland, the legends that sustain the illusion that it is somehow truly important."

What does this mean?:

Only celebrity rags that treat celebrities nicely gain access to those celebrities. Look at Jolie's relationship with People vs. US Weekly. People magazine has never uttered a negative peep about Jolie, and was "awarded" (albeit for a hefty price) with exclusive photos of newborn Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. US Weekly, on the other hand, hasn't exactly had the most flattering cover shots of Jolie (I think the current issue shows an alleged 85lb Jolie). Not surprisingly, US Weekly would be lucky to have Jolie even glance their way.

But playing to celebrities' favor for exclusive interviews / pictures translates into access and therefore articles/photos and therefore higher magazine sales. And so the cycle perpetuates.

Now, if there ever was an electronic celebrity that reporters would fight to have early access to, it is the iPhone. And much like Angelina Jolie has her "favored" magazines / reporters, it doesn't take a huge leap to realize that a select group of tech columnists were "awarded" with an early look at the iPhone (likely hand-picked by Steve Jobs himself). And they don't want to loose that privilege the next time a new Apple gadget comes along.

(Addendum: Let's just say I read the iPhone reviews with a few servings of salt.)

2 comments:

Sam said...

This follow with all the buzz about Federated Media and Microsoft. I think we should create a badge that only true, unbiased authors would be awarded.

Charlie said...

No wonder I didn't get a preview of the iPhone!

Damn snarkiness getting in the way of perks.