All that glisters is not gold

Gossip in print is by no means a new phenomenon. Royal weddings and news of film stars have always nourished the popular fantasy. Much ink has been spilled over the Sad Princess Soraya or the romances of the «Kitten of Saint Tropez,» Brigitte Bardot, offering people an escape from their own reality. In Greece, it was not until after the fall of the colonel’s dictatorship that the broad public became introduced to the concepts of «glamour» and «lifestyle.» Today, there are six magazines on the market dedicated exclusively to celebrity gossip and two daily newspapers as well. The magazines enjoy a circulation of approximately 2,000-12,000 issues, while the papers sell 2,000-9,000 copies on a daily basis in the Athens-Piraeus area. While the numbers alone may not be very impressive, they do suggest that gossip reading is not a pastime enjoyed by just a small, marginal fragment of society. What is of concern, however, is how aggressive and cynical these media are becoming, doing away with even the most basic rules of journalistic decency. Headlines scream out about the players’ private lives, making allegations about their personal affairs, but inside, the stories quote «sources on the production team,» «an informer,» «a young man who called the paper,» arguing that it is their duty to report everything that has been said to them, without, however, explaining exactly to whom it is their duty. Furthermore, judging by the mishmash of Greek and English that dominates these magazines and newspapers, one would think that the readers are all graduates of Oxford or Harvard and unable to remember certain terms in their native language. The rich and famous of Greece don’t go shopping at the local market, but in Rome and, in an emergency, Kolonaki. They don’t drive a regular car but a «dream car.» The terminology used to describe what they do in their spare time is predominantly in English and their lives appear even further removed from the toil and problems faced by the average Greek. This world of fashion events and «trendy» nights flings open its doors to the youngsters of reality shows, who, whether they win or not, will have a spot in this glass, artificial universe… even though they know the spell of the television fairy who will not last very long and whose golden carriage will turn back into a pumpkin.