My friends — especially the “well-read” types — love scoffing at my TvNotas subscription. To them, seeing a publication of such ill repute in anything other than a laundromat, a beauty salon, or in the hands of a barely literate person is offensive and demeaning. With their coverage of celebrity gossip, music, soap operas, and the occasional you-won’t-believe-it’s-true story, I think the magazine is funny, telling, and it makes a great case study — and, no, I don’t consider TvNotas a guilty pleasure. Perhaps self-conscious individuals feel ashamed of their culturally reprehensible interests, but I don’t.
Why? For starters, TvNotas is very open about its shady practices; they assume the reader knows they’re full of shit. If they weren’t self-aware, the magazine wouldn’t add those “TvNotas always tells the truth!” stickers to the stories which are not complete lies. And as any fiction writer can tell you, it’s of little to no importance if anything TvNotas “reports” is actually true. Because no matter how outrageous, shocking or abhorrent, most readers will consume anything that’s entertaining.
I started reading tabloid magazines because of my dad. He used to carry many of them in his work truck and, after buying a new batch, he’d toss the old ones my way. Is it odd for a grown, married man to buy gossip magazines? Not if he’s from Latin America. Our culture doesn’t really shame gossipy males, which is why men will commonly follow soap operas with the same kind of devotion that women do (that’s also why telenovela producers always cast hot actresses).
Unsurprisingly, TvNotas knows its demographic very well. Along with all the tragic divorces, weight loss, weight gain, surgical procedures, deaths, and baby births they assume we’re dying to know about — and we are — the editors entice heterosexual males by putting half-naked women on most of their covers. The hot mamacita provides macho men with a flimsy excuse to purchase the salacious content, but what they really want to know is the identity of the woman who’s been messing around with Father Alberto, a well-known priest, and all the juicy, God-forbidden details :
While the editorial tone of its American counterparts (People, Star, OK!) is generally more objective, TvNotas can be ruthless and opinionated. More National Enquirer and New York Post than US Weekly, the rag is an equal opportunity troll. (Well, almost: drug lords and high-ranking politicians are notably exempt from their judgment.) But their style of criticism is never foaming-from-the-mouth à la Bill O’Reilly. Instead, the TvNotas voice is that of a passive-aggressive, concern-feigning, bitchy aunt:
They’re surprisingly tactical, too. When TvNotas wanted to ridicule Lucero, Televisa’s golden goose and go-to goody two-shoes, they published embarrassing pictures of the 44-year-old mom taken during a hunting trip. Word on the street is that the rag published the photos as retribution for being excluded from a Lucero-hosted event. Whatever the reason, the public lynching worked extremely well, and it forced the usually chatty star to keep quiet on social media for many days:
But whenever they’re feeling especially nasty, TvNotas calls upon Nueva, its sister publication, which does its most distasteful, dirty work. Nude celebrity photos, ruthless fat-shaming, closet outings — nothing is beneath Nueva, and its headlines are viciously sharp:
All that entertainment for less than two American dollars? What a deal.
I’ll be honest: not every issue is entertaining. In fact, probably because of the pressures to keep up with online publishing, lately their content seems to be losing the signature TvNotas voice. Rarely does one read pun-heavy or tongue-in-cheek headlines anymore, which used to be their bread and butter, and their writing — as evidenced by the aforementioned Lucero piece — has become too objective. Where’s the faux indignation? The old TvNotas would have painted the town red with the leftover goat blood. In contrast, the person who wrote that timid Lucero piece — probably some unpaid intern — barely gasped.
One Ivy League-educated friend assumed that lowbrow publications like TvNotas are detrimental to general society because, without their existence, the average person would automatically pick up the works of some Nobel Laureate, and instantly become smart, cultured, and refined. My friend’s assumption is noble but incredibly misguided, and, for better or worse, gossip magazines do serve an important purpose: they highlight the interests, obsessions, and preoccupations of the mainstream populace. As such, they offer excellent anthropological data. Is the content of these types of magazines superficial, judgmental, or downright ridiculous? Of course it is. But, again, TvNotas assumes their readers are already know that.
Either for fun or out of ignorance, some people knowingly surrender their common sense to the deceitful practices of a gossip publications, and that’s just a fact. However, being a nosy gossip is also an evolutionary trait which, according to science, helped our ancestors survive and evolve:
For years, people like me have been saying that our intense interest in gossip is not really a character flaw. It’s part of who we are. It’s almost a biological event, and it exists for good evolutionary reasons.
Science! Catch the fever, kids.
As for you, TvNotas, I have but one thing to say, and it’s a line from a spirited ’90s grunge song: Here we are now. Entertain us.