I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store (which was especially long as it’s
Thanksgiving week and the store was packed) when my eye wandered over to the magazine rack and I caught a glimpse of Woman’s World. You know the magazine with the tabloid look (weird-coated-not-quite-newsprint feel to the paper, bright colors, and story lines about miracle ways to lose weight by defying the laws of thermodynamics, miracle ways to be happier/calmer/more satisfied, recipes, and miracle thyroid/hormone cures).
And then I thought, where have I heard that language before…
- Works like statins!
- Belly bloat!
- Reset your metabolism!
- Reverse aging!
The Oz show has all the same buzzwords as Woman’s World. In fact, I could invent a game where I read sensationalized medical phrases and challenge people to identify the source and call it Oz/Woman’s World/or both and I bet the answer would be both every single time.
Woman’s World was selling medical sensationalism long before Oprah even met Dr. Oz, but they must be profitable so if you’re looking to know what moves copy rather than what is important in health it’s a good place to look for ideas. I accept that weight loss, sex, and skin care are a large part of the medical demographic of women’s magazines, however, some do a better job of challenging their readers with other important health topics while keeping clear of miracle cures and belly bloat than others. In my opinion Woman’s World is to medicine as Weekly World News was to news.
But not content with being a fat alchemist, replacing vaccines with pumpkin, and altering the laws of physics to reverse the aging process Dr. Oz is now using therapist skills (clearly taught during his surgical cardiothoracic residency) to be a counselor. On Monday Dr. Oz was helping Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott fight to save their marriage, thus completing the transformation to women’s tabloid news (celebrity relationships being the last but crucial steps).
If you like Woman’s World, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t presume to say it offered much in the way of medical advice in the way that Weekly World News didn’t have much in common with news.
In an ultimate meta move Oz now has a magazine, The Good Life. The fact that his brand is growing and Weekly World News failed suggests that people are more likely to believe in miracle cures for melting belly fat than alien babies and bat boys.
It’s just sad. The only person helped by medical sensationalism is the person selling it.