Of all the damning messages about women’s looks zooming around these days, the celebrity body-snarking in The National Enquirer is a worst among worsts to an almost comedic degree. Recent headlines include “Fat Kim’s Fake Pregnancy (200 lbs and gaining!)” and “Kirstie’s Still Over 220 lbs (she can’t stop binge eating!)” Here is some representative copy:
“No longer a Desperate Housewife: Eva Longoria is in desperate need of a new diet. The 38-year-old star shows off her paunch while hanging out on Copacabana Beach in Rio.”
Who, I have often wondered, has the shitty, shitty, shit job of writing mean things about famous women’s bodies all day?
A: THIS FUCKING GUY. In an effort to put a face to words and shame the shamer for his shaming, Jezebel’s Tracie Egan Morrissey decided to dig up the name and photo of the guy who writes most of that garbage, and found it wasn’t very hard at all. His name is Don Gentile, and here is his picture:
I’m not going to sink to the Enquirer‘s level by criticizing his looks, so I want you to focus on the stink-lines of ugliness emanating from his cold, shriveled soul.
“Perhaps it speaks to his age that he wouldn’t think that people would read such nasty sentiments about women’s physical appearances and turn to social media to check out what kind of Adonis he is,” writes Tracie. “If he had, he probably would never have worn that SpongeBob shirt in those selfies he posted to his Facebook page.” Hope he’s got some aloe gel for that burn.
Of course, holding women to an impossible standard of beauty (eternally young and perfect-looking, but without obvious plastic surgery; thin but not too thin, etc.) is a systemic problem, and calling out one guy isn’t going to change anything. The fact is, The National Enquirer wouldn’t publish this malarky if it didn’t sell newspapers, and if Don Gentile refused to write it, you can bet any number of broke ass reporters would be lining up to take his place, probably for less money than he was making. This seems like a particularly pernicious example, but I know plenty of people, self included, who’ve worked for entities they don’t particularly support in exchange for having enough money to eat.
So maybe it’s not fair for Tracie to “out” him like this if she’s not also going to out every single person who’s ever bought the paper, plus its editor, plus its advertisers, plus the patriarchy, which is not even a person, but a sneaky, million-faced thing that is larger than the sum of its parts.
Still, I suppose it might be possible to eliminate that stuff from the media by simply bullying everyone who writes it so much that the benefits of the job are completely outweighed by its consequences to one’s personal life. To bully bullying out of existence, as it were. A myopic, scattershot, bottom-up approach. This is more than a little wrongheaded, but it’s easier to go after individuals than seemingly un-fightable creatures like “the patriarchy,” so I can at least empathize with the impulse. Sometimes you just want to feel like you’re doing something.