February 21st, 2008 03:38 EST
A look inside the world of Black Entertainment Blogs. Are they hurting or helping?
Not too long ago, the mainstream entertainment media basically ignored most Black celebrities. Popular press was only reserved for A-list Black stars like Halle Berry, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Eddie Murphy. African Americans fans had to rely on a few magazines to get news on their favorite celebrity of color.
Now the World Wide Web has changed that. The rise of Black celebrity gossip and blogs websites can be characterized as a cultural phenomenon. There are literally hundreds of blogs dedicated to dishing news out about African American entertainers. Mediatakeout, Bossip, The Panache Report, SandraRose, The Young Black and Fabulous and Concrete Loop are all enormously popular blogsites who Black fans read religiously every day. They are now the go to for information on what is happening in the world of Black Entertainment.
Still, a lot of Black celebrities take issue with the way Black bloggers treat and what they write about them. Gabrielle Union ignited a firestorm in blogsphere when she spoke out against what she felt is unfair treatment from some bloggers. “They rip us to shreds”, Gabrielle is quoted in the December 2007 issue of Essence magazine.
Anyone who regularly visits these sites know many of the stories seem a bit outlandish or over the top. Rumors run rampant on these sites. The blogs are mix of humor and scathing commentaries. Nothing is sacred and no topic is off limits. And accountability is never an issue. Should these blogs be taken seriously or just a form of entertainment? Should bloggers adhere to the traditional standards held by most journalists?
“When people try to hold bloggers to the same standards as journalists is where you find the problem,” say Morris Kelly, of EURweb.com and mokellyreport.blogspot.com. “Not all journalists are bloggers. Not all bloggers are journalists.” Morris Kelly, a highly regarded Black celebrity journalist makes a great point in differing mainstream entertainment blogs and black entertainment blogs. “Black celebrity blogs are generated on behavior and white celebrity blogs are more paparazzi driven,” says Mr. Kelly.
This is a truthful observation when one takes the time and closely examines various gossip sites. While white celebrity blogs take their cue on commenting on paparazzi photos, Black celebrity bloggers take their cue on commenting on outrageous celebrity behavior. Stars like Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown and R. Kelly are fixtures on blogsites because of their controversial history rather than a humiliating photo. Another major difference is the level familiarity of their fan base. Black bloggers feed on the personal relationship fans have with their favorite celebrity. One just has to read the comments to see how passionate the debate gets when they feel someone is attacking their much-loved star.
A lot of gossip about celebrities is hurtful. We sometimes forget stars are human and react the same way any person would if they felt their character was under attack or someone is spreading a blatant lie about them. Others in the industry argue gossip has not changed over the years, just the method of spreading it. A new tidbit is uploading every few minutes. Celebrity dirt flows 24/7 in cyberspace. So, what should a black celebrity do when they see an off the wall accusation is making its way through the cyber highways and neighborhoods?
Morris Kelly provides the best advice to any Black star or starlet who feels hurt by the attention the have received on Black gossip sites. “Ignore it,” says Kelly. “You never respond to gossip. When you chase down the gossip site, you’ve lost.”
There is a positive aspect of black gossips site. They are a great way celeb can reach their target market. One cannot argue the impact they have brought into the marketing and publicizing of Black entertainment. Many of these sites serve as launch pads for new music videos, CD’s and movies. They have become a part of the thin but major layered fabric of black media. It is not fair to categorize all black gossip sites under the same critical eye. Each has its own way of delivering information to their audience. Some gossips sites feed on generating negative reactions from commentators. Others look to show black entertainers in a positive light, while some are just want to provide informative commentary on black pop culture events.
Also, we all have to realize the idea of the idea celebrity has changed. Fans demand accessibility and realness of today’s stars. Gone are they days of the mysterious and elusive celebrity. We want their lives to be open books. Wrong or right, we feel it’s our right to know every little detail of their private lives. “Giving up your privacy in the price you pay when you become famous,” is the overall most popular commentary from blog fans.
The same way National Enquirer, Star and People magazine co-exists in mainstream media; Black gossip bloggers each have their own method of delivering the dish on our favorite celebs. Hey, the Internet is big enough for everyone.