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Tabloid Melodrama

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Now you've left me, the world's gonna know
They're gonna turn our lives into a freak show
They'll see the heartache, they'll see the love break
They'll hear me pleading, we'll say "for God's sakes"
Over and over and over again
Queen, "Scandal"

When you're a celebrity, or become one overnight, tabloid stories will turn your personal life into a trashy melodrama. Try not to take it too seriously, even if they are pronouncing nuptials for you and some celebrity you merely had a friendly conversation with.

Truth in Television (but not in tabloids), especially applied to Hollywood actresses and actors. For characters who work for such publications, see Paparazzi. Also see Lurid Tales of Doom.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The manga/OVA Boys' Love series Haru wo Daiteita is based on two actors and their relationship with each other, surrounded by Paparazzi and gossips, including tabloids and talk shows.
  • This played a major role in the backstory of Osaragi in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, whose parents were in show business and ended up being the subject of mockery by her classmates when an article about her mother having an affair was published in a tabloid. Lacking the social skills to deal with it, she ended up going from the outgoing Child Popstar she was in her youth to a cynical introvert.

    Comic Books 
  • In Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald, Paris-Flash's cover promises the wedding of Castafiore to Captain Haddock (who can't stand her voice), and she tells him not to take it too seriously, as she's been linked to hundreds of other men in the past. She later gets upset about the Tempo di Roma's unauthorized expose on "La diva ed il pappagallo".
  • A Paparazzi photographed She-Hulk sunbathing topless. Fortunately for Jen, the guy's editor airbrushed the photo, making her skin look flesh-colored instead of green (likely a routine editing job by someone who didn't realize she was supposed to be green). The rag's readers never realized the woman in the picture is her.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The webslinger once has to deal with a rather vile Paparazzi (and the biggest sleazeball you'd ever meet) named Nick Katzenburg, a Fat Slob with absolutely no morals, who gained a high position at the Daily Bugle because J. Jonah Jameson had been replaced by the Chameleon, making the Bugle's attacks against Spider-Man into outright slander. When the real Jonah returns, Nick's claws are clipped a little, due to Jonah having some morals as a newsman, and then severely grounded when Thomas Fireheart becomes the owner in a hostile takeover, turning the Bugle's coverage towards him positive in order to repay a debt he felt he owed (which, sadly, was just as biased, only in reverse). Nick's slanderous ways finally come to a head when he takes incriminating pictures of the Rose and published them with Peter Parker's name to protect himself; once the truth comes out, he is the target of both the underworld and the police, and an attempt on his life leads to a heart attack and his eventual death from lung cancer.
    • In another instance, the Daily Bugle was bought out by a man who turned it into a celebrity gossip rag. Peter was initially on board, since he was given a big raise and the people being slandered by the paper were "just" celebrities, but after receiving What the Hell, Hero? responses for taking pictures of a child star from basically everyone he knew he had a change of heart.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Death Note AU Ragnarok, much to Light's dismay, the tabloids become interested in "the pretty boy cop" that teen idol Misa Amane hangs out with and write up a trashy article about him which concludes that if he and Misa aren't a couple then he must be gay.
  • In the Harry Potter AU 3 Slytherin Marauders, it seems the staff of the Daily Prophet has nothing better to do than stalk an 11-year old boy.
  • In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone gets his revenge on Celestia by getting her caught up in a tabloid scandal.
  • In the Shadowchasers Series, Jalal Stormbringer claims to have been a victim of trash like this "ever since the printed periodical replaced the town crier". (Given how old he is, that is likely true.) He mostly ignores it these days.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mega Man has often been the subject of tabloid scrutiny, but this trope really takes effect in the interlude to Episode 14, where Tiesel Bonne gives footage of Mega and Kalinka's kiss to the Conduit, opening Mega Man and Kalinka up to tabloid scrutiny like never before should the footage be leaked.
  • This happens in a lot of Miraculous Ladybug salt fics, where the Ladyblog turns into a trashy gossip column as a result of Alya blindly believing the resident Consummate Liar.
    • LadyBugOut begins when Alya posts a photo of Ladybug and Chat Noir kissing to her Ladyblog while deliberately omitting context — mainly, that this was caused by them losing their memories to Oblivio. When confronted about this, Alya claims that this is simply the price of fame — that being a superheroine makes Ladybug a public figure who should just 'get used to' being treated like this. Marinette/Ladybug disagrees, and starts her own blog to counter this blatant and deliberate misinformation.
    • The One to Make It Stay sees Alya generously editing footage she secretly took of one of Chat Noir's Love Confessions, making it appear that Ladybug accepted it rather than gently turning him down. She then posted the results onto the Ladyblog. It's quickly made clear when Ladybug confronts her that she doesn't see anything wrong with this, and treats her punishment as Disproportionate Retribution.
    • Adrien uses this to his advantage in All's Fair in Love and War (And Turnabout's Fair Play). Specifically, he delivers a 'Shocking Interview' where he reveals that he's afraid of one of his classmates: Lila. While he doesn't name names, he lists off various horrible things she's done to try and get him under her thumb... and every last one of them is true.
    • When a new Fox Heroine debuts in Burning Bridges, Building Confidence, Alya responds by quickly penning and posting a spiteful article accusing her of stealing the Fox miraculous. Ladybug soon calls her out on this, berating her for how she's filled the Ladyblog with gossip and wild, baseless speculation.
    • Alya's portrayal as this in various salt fics is given a Take That! in you turned out to be the best thing i never had. In the story, where Lila had transferred to another class after Miss Bustier's class figured out she was lying before she came back and then convinced her new class that the protagonists were bullying her, she gets a classmate named Vin to write the "truth" in his Miraculous Center. His "news" claims that Ladybug is a Bad Boss that had abused the other heroes and that Lila was one of them, only for her to get rid of them when they stood up to her and replaced them with loyal minionsnote . Alya herself is disgusted to read this and plans to warn the rest of her classmates about Lila's latest scheme.
  • Central to the plot of Exoteric: the Paparazzi from a Filler episode of the My Hero Academia anime publishes an article claiming that All Might's successor is attending U.A. However, instead of Izuku, he zeroes in on the wrong suspect: Ojiro Mashiro, throwing his life into disarray as he's dragged into the spotlight.
  • This Marvel Cinematic Universe fan comic sees Peter Parker pick up a copy of the "Daily Super" which claims that he's actually Iron Man and Black Widow's son, and that the former left the latter for Captain America ("Widow cries: 'I was alone in the delivery room!'"). A response took the "Rhodes Tells All" tagline as an indicator that Rhodes made up the story and sold it to the press solely to mess with Tony.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Harry Potter films went for this angle, in addition to Rita Skeeter's appearances in the fourth and seventh movies, as opposed to the books, where the Daily Prophet was far more subtle in its criticism of Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter and their supporters, despite being part of a large smear campaign. The paper in the movies throws subtlety out the window.
  • The movie Paparazzi does this as the whole excuse for the film's plot.
  • A lot of Notting Hill revolves around trying to keep things from the tabloids.
  • What Price Hollywood?: The price of fame—being in tabloids, having your name turned into dirt by them, and people believing these scandalous lies— is something that Mary has to live with.
  • In Singin' in the Rain, Monumental Pictures' publicity plays up Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont as an off-screen couple to the point where tabloids and radio are spreading rumors of their impending marriage. From Don's point of view, these are "banana oil"; as he tells Lina, "There is nothing between us. There has never been anything between us. Just air." He has to tell the redoubtable Ms. Lamont this, incidentally, because she has started to believe her own publicity.
  • In The Greatest Showman, the newspapers all print a photo of P.T. Barnum and Jenny Lind kissing, which nearly destroys P.T.'s marriage and his business. In this case, the victim of the tabloids actually takes it as a Heel Realization; he got into this situation because he sought fame at the expense of his family and real friends.
  • Sabrina Down Under has Sabrina trying to invoke this. While the resort actually captured a real merman and the news crews have swarmed the scene to capture the story, Sabrina passes it off as the tabloids exaggerating a story about them rediscovering a species of fish thought to be extinct.

  • In the Harry Potter series, Rita Skeeter is an immoral Paparazzi who really doesn't care who she hurts or whose reputation she ruins (or even if her information is exaggerated a little — or more than "a little") so long as she gets the dirt on a subject. As it turns out, she's using an illegal method to get her stories—she's an unlicensed Animagus who can turn herself into a beetle and listen in on any conversation like a fly on the wall, literally.
  • In Rewind (Terry England), the Rewound Children become instant celebrities and are hit full-force by this, the unwilling center of a media circus. At one point, a tabloid prints nude photographs taken of all seventeen by the government. This does not go over well, to say the least. Rewind generally takes a very dim view of the media.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Absolutely Fabulous had Patsy locked in a steamy affair with an important man (possibly a cabinet minister), leading the tabloids to hound her and refer to her as a "flash fash slag."
  • A two-part episode of Dream On reversed the gender roles when Martin Tupper began an affair with a woman who turned out to be the wife (Teri Garr) of a prominent politician (George Hamilton). In the ensuing tabloid uproar, cameo roles went to people like Rita Jenrette, Gennifer Flowers and Jessica Hahn, all of whom had experience with the phenomenon in real life.
  • Genie in the House has an episode where Sophie wishes she got more recognition for her accomplishments. Adil being the incompetent genie he is, grants said wish, and it results in Sophie becoming a worldwide celebrity. A jealous Amy starts blabbing some of her private secrets to the tabloids, and Sophie wakes up to a headline about "Sophie's Spanish Romance" (exaggerating a story about a boy she had a crush on in Spain). These tabloids are pretty incompetent, not realising that Sophie has a sister, and instead printing that she has a brother. Who is called Amy.
  • The HBO miniseries John Adams shows that this sort of thing is Older Than They Think. There is this dialogue between John Adams and his rather upset wife, who is reading The Federalist Papers, which has printed some rather absurd exaggerations and lies:
    Abigail Adams: [reading] "The reign of Mr. Adams has hitherto been one continued tempest of malignant passions. As president, he has never opened his lips without threatening or scolding. He is a repulsive pedant, a gross hypocrite, one of the most egregious fools upon the continent, a hideous, hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
    John Adams: It is beneath the President of the United States to take any notice of insinuations.
    Mrs. Adams: In any other country, such filth would have been silenced long ago.
    President Adams: Mr. Hamilton takes equal pains to ensure that the Federalist Paper are filled with scurrilous attacks on Thomas Jefferson and his party.
    Mrs. Adams: Think of all the vile falsehoods written about you—continue to be written about you. You may have patiently borne all the slanders, but I have not. "Before it is too late to retrieve our deranged affairs—"
    President Adams: For goodness sake.
    Mrs. Adams: [continues reading] "— the people must demand the immediate resignation of old, querulous, bald, blind, crippled, toothless Adams."
    [long pause]
    President Adams: I am not crippled.
    Mrs. Adams: I find no amusement in this. Waste of paper and ink.
    President Adams: Waste of time reading it, Abigail. Put it down.
    Mrs. Adams: They would not say such a thing about Washington. They would not call George Washington hermaphroditical!
    President Adams: They could call him toothless, though. [both laugh]
  • Jessica Jones (2015): In season 2, Trish's dating life is the subject of tabloid gossip for a period of time, beginning when Jessica calls the Paparazzi on Trish claiming she and her boyfriend Griffin are having relationship troubles (as a ploy to keep Trish grounded while Jessica goes to a meeting with someone from IGH). Trish has Malcolm assist her in sneaking past the Paparazzi, though despite their best efforts, they are noticed and photographs are taken of them together when they catch up to Jessica just as her meeting with the fake Dr. Leslie Hansen (actually her presumed-deceased mother) turns violent. Subsequently, a photo of Trish and Malcolm is plastered on the tabloids, forcing Trish to make clear to the press she's still dating Griffin. One episode later, she's dumping Griffin after he tries to proposing to her as a Grand Romantic Gesture...which also gets plastered in the tabloids.
  • The Partridge Family: In "I Am a Curious Partridge," Danny publishes a two-part article full of made-up lurid details about Keith and Shirley's sex lives, causing them both to be incessantly harassed by fans taking advice from the article. Keith gets revenge by publishing an article that claims the miserly Danny loves giving away money, causing him to be harassed by charitable organizations.

  • In Michael Jackson's music video for "Billie Jean", the paparazzo following Jackson is trying to continue pushing one about Jackson being involved with Billie Jean, while Jackson vehemently denies the claim. In the video, he accidentally drops a newspaper that says in big bold letters on the front page "BILLIE JEAN SCANDAL"
  • Lindsay Lohan's song "Rumours" is about being hounded by the Paparazzi when she goes to a nightclub, and how there will be an exaggerated story regardless of whatever she does. The song was originally written for Britney Spears, whose dealings with the tabloids were legendary in the 2000s.
    "I can tell that you're watching me/and you're probably gonna write what you didn't see..."
  • Britney Spears, a tabloid punchline after from her mental breakdown in 2007, released the extremely nasty "Piece Of Me" about her treatment and her tabloid persona:
    I'm Mrs. Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous (You want a piece of me?)
    I'm Mrs. "Oh-my-God-that-Britney's-shameless" (You want a piece of me?)
    I'm Mrs. "Extra! Extra! This Just In" — (You want a piece of me?)
    I'm Mrs. "She's Too Big, Now She's Too Thin!" (You want a piece of me!?)
  • Eminem always hated fame:
  • Queen: "Scandal" was written in response to the tabloids trying pry into the private lives of Freddie Mercury as he was battling HIV/AIDS and Brian May as he was going through a painful divorce.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, several tabloid stories come out over the course of the summer, all calling the protagonist the "Barbarossa mass murderer" on account of his role in the incident there. Exploited at times by Dennis to blackmail him after he finds out the ultimate secret regarding the protagonist and the tragedy.
  • Averted in Melody. Even as the title character's star rises, there's no indication of what the tabloids are saying, or even that they're saying anything at all, about her life.

    Web Video 
  • Christy Carlson Romano devotes a video on the feuds between the various Disney Channel stars of the 2000s, and how the tabloids exaggerated what were basically disagreements between children. Likewise, how private confidants became informants to enhance the stories.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: The episode "Sneak Peak". Ian Peek runs a popular celebrity gossip show that seems like the typical one, but the difference is, he will use any method, no matter how immoral, to get the dirt on celebrities. As it turns out, he has murdered a Wayne Enterprises scientist in order to steal a device that can make him intangible, letting him spy on and record conversations that most Paparazzi can't access. A Smug Snake to the extreme, he even dares to publically expose a mobster who turned informant on other crime bosses, and not only discovers Terry's identity as the current Batman, but Bruce Wayne's identity as the original one. However, right before he plans to air that secret in what he hopes will be his biggest hit ever, he discovers he is losing control of the device, and it is making him intangible against his will. He postpones the airing, and then calls Bruce, pleading with him for help. Unfortunately, it is far too late for Bruce to do anything. As Terry arrives and a fight broke out, Ian completely lost control of it, and plummets downward, unable to even stand on solid ground, eventually vanishing through the basement floor. He hasn't been seen since, but Bruce theorized that he will probably keep falling until he reaches the center of the Earth, so it's not surprising.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko is tempted to read Filburt's private diary, sitting on his coffee table. He decides to watch some TV in hopes of taking his mind off it. He turns on the TV, and the first Show Within a Show that comes on is some celebrity gossip show called Celebrities' Private Secrets.