Tabloid Internetism
(hennhaus: Hard Baud)

Originally published 10/24/96

Tabloid Internetism

‘Baby Smothered By Killer Fungus!’

Well, the poor child choked on a mushroom, but the facts don’t carry the impact that a tabloid headline does. Supermarket tabloid titles each carry circulation numbers in the millions, and they dutifully inform their readers of such critical social issues as flying saucer coverups,
celebrity faux-pas, startling psychic predictions and gruesome crimes. More telling, perhaps, are the ads within: pieces of the ‘True Cross,’ ancient talismans that protect one against double chins … you
get the idea: It takes more brainstrain to believe these ‘newspapers’ than to read them.

It’s been estimated that roughly 60 per cent of Internet users are college (Americanese for ‘university’) educated. Surely, then, one might expect more from what may be the greatest agglomeration of human knowledge yet assembled. One may be surprised.

Ufomind (www.ufomind.com/area51/) has had almost 415,000 ‘hits’, primarily by those interested in the U.S. government’s test facility at Groom Lake (aka ‘Area 51’). What draws visitors to the Nevada military site are not the testing aircraft inherent within, but rumours of downed and dismantled UFOs. The Skeptical Inquirer (www.csicop.org) informs us that Area 51 fans believe that Hungarian-speaking aliens reside at the facility and bathe in bacteria. The Inquirer, I should point out, harbours no such beliefs. Usenet newsgroups alt.alien.research and alt.alien.visitors are available for the faithful, and, for a Canadian slant on UFOs, look up Stan Friedman’s UFO Page
(medianet.nbnet.nb.ca/ufo/index.htm).

What of celebrities? The latest friend-of-a-friend gossip can be had in alt.fan.InsertCelebrityNameHere newsgroups, of course, but are you romantically compatible with your favourite star? The Lifestyles International Astrological Foundation (www.lifeintl.com/celeb.html) has psychological and astrological profiles of over 30,000 famed names — including serial killers — whom they’ll compare you to . . . for a fee.

If you’ve encountered a celebrity while, say, cleaning gum from your shoe soles — and haven’t we all? — The Celebrity Chronicle (www.polaris.net/~merlin/fame.html) wants to hear your story. Possibly the most tackiest site, Celebrities for Whom the Bell Tolls (www.users.fast.net/~elron/), asks its viewers to vote for nominees to its ‘Top Ten List of Impending Dead Celebrities.’ Yakkk.

Scads of psychics permeate the ‘Net and, not surprisingly, virtually all of them want you to cross their palms with major credit cards. Free samplings can be had, however, if you’re inclined to meddle with
mumbo-mystery. Facade (www.facade.com) provides free tarot readings in your choice of decks, as well as biorhythm forecasting, I-Ching, runes and other prophetic dabblings. Another site with free tarot readings is Matrix Tarot (205.186.189.2/root/ms/tarot/tarot.html). Alas, no matter which way
I cut it, my future bites cheese.

As you might expect, given the above, the talismans and fetishes advertised in the tabloids are well represented online. Examples? From various sites: a $46.00 German Mummy of Fortune ‘made from magical earth,’ $30.00 ‘thrown clay’ angel talismans, and, for only $11.99, a vial of Holy Jordan Water ‘with blessings from the Holyland!’

Just how popular is this stuff? I couldn’t tell you, but I’m almost certain that somewhere inquiring minds want to know.

. . .
Copyright © 1996, 2006 by John Rudzinski. Note the date the
column was originally published; any links contained therein are probably outdated.
. . .

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