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"ER" campaign is a Star

December 16, 2003 -- This week's issue of the Hollywood tabloid "Star" ("NOBODY KNOWS THE STARS LIKE THE STAR!") has a brief, somewhat ambiguous item about the Center's "ER" campaign in its "It's been a good week for...It's been a bad week for..." feature.

This feature describes those the "Star" feels are doing well (perhaps because they have landed a role or launched a clothing collection) and not so well (perhaps because they have gone to prison, or had to get a restraining order for a stalking fan). This issue's "bad week" crew consists of three different stars who have apparently had alcohol problems, and "nurses," who have "blamed" "ER" for the nursing shortage, arguing that the show perpetuates long-standing stereotypes about the profession.

Of course, the Center has suggested only that influential media products like "ER" contribute to the shortage, not that the show is solely responsible. But this distortion has appeared elsewhere since the unfortunate Washington Post headline that started it on November 18, and we would not expect "Star"'s account to be more nuanced than that of daily newspapers.

It is not clear whether the "nurses" supposedly having a bad week are all nurses who are enduring harmful media depictions, or only the nurses who have complained about it. The Center is also unsure what to make of having "nurses" placed alongside three stars who supposedly have had alcohol problems. But we hesitate to read too much into it, as we gather that the "bad week" designation is really open to anyone suffering an apparent setback, including Disney, Britney Spears, and even Barbie, who had a bad week in September 2003 because there was serious doubt as to whether she was still "cool enough to compete with new Bratz dolls."

This week's "Good week, bad week" column is not online, but you can get a general feel for the "Star" publication at their website


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