Recently, I was cleaning out some old boxes from high school when I came across one filled with old issues of Entertainment Weekly. Don't worry, this is not about my latent hoarding issues. I've been a subscriber to the magazine since I was sixteen years old and it's one of my favorites but lately, I've been wondering if it's time to hang it up. These days, I get a heavy dose of my entertainment from the Internet through bloggers who share stories, cultivate wild tales, and chronicle their unusual adventures online. And yet, when it comes to my favorite entertainment magazine and many others, the people who really entertain me are nowhere to be found among their pages.
If I, and millions upon millions of users, find some of these bloggers so entertaining, why are they still not considered "entertainment" by traditional media? Why are they so celebrated and yet not celebrities? If a post goes viral but a magazine doesn't even mention it, did that post really exist? Am I the only one who feels the enormity of that disconnect?
Consider the website Hyperbole and a Half. Mention Allie Brosh's website by name and you'll likely hear a groan if the person is also a fan: Brosh does not update her website often, to the sadness of her many admirers. She is, according to her last post which went up in October, in the middle of writing a book and waging quite the battle against depression. Still, when that post went up on Facebook, I watched in amazement as it was shared almost instantly by 10,000 fans. Brosh's Facebook page has almost 300,000 fans, in fact, and they are a noisy, impassioned bunch. Every post instantly goes viral. Her unique offering of content, part web-comic, part blog, is adored by other popular bloggers, also a big help in the viral push. And there are many more bloggers like her who have turned their personal lives into a treasure trove of storytelling, who are popular enough to quit their "day jobs" and generate income from their websites. But we only hear mention of a select few and in business or finance-related publications, such as when Heather Armstrong was named by Forbes as one of the most influential women in media in 2009.
There is little regard for these bloggers' entertainment value, the assumption being that if they are that popular, they will write a book or get a television series and enter the pop culture atmosphere in that specific way. But the blog offers us a specifically unique form; shouldn't it be regarded as entertainment in that form? And if so, why not? What is stopping us, really, from giving credit where it is due?