Piers Morgan? Is he a celebrity?
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Johanna Williams asks

Why shouldn’t Jade Goodie have her five minutes of fame?


She’s basically famous for being famous. By her own admission has no talent, she can’t sing and she can’t act. According to Piers Morgan this makes her unfit to be a celebrity. So will someone please explain to me how she differs from Elizabeth Hurley? They are both famous, both recognisable faces, and another thing they have in common is that I personally, do not give a flying fuck about either of them. Yet it is mooted that one is more worthy of media attention than the other. Nobody would doubt that Ms. Hurley is an A-list celebrity, and therefore newsworthy, yet Ms. Goodie, according to Piers, is not. On his programme recently he subjected a number of so called celebrities to a talent contest, the implication being that only the gifted hard working amongst them should qualify as a celebrity. I dispute that, or rather I would like to know since when? Talent doesn’t come into it at all, surely one only needs to be a famous face to qualify. Interviews with various actors revealed that they themselves resented the big brother inmates and other self styled celebrities. Feeling that fame should reflect talent. Again since when? Only in an industry rife with old fashioned snobbery could we have a former soap star criticising another less successful soap star. They should have asked Michael Gambon’s opinion of Martine McCutcheon.

There seems to be a rigid hierarchy of fame with fine distinctions between the levels. For example everyone knows a Blue Peter presenter is trumped by a chat show host, and a cricketer is beaten by a footballer. But really why should that be? Perhaps what Piers and his interviewees object to most is that these newcomers do not conform to any traditional type. They don’t have their own neat little pigeon-hole. What are they? They are not actors or sportsmen, the closest definition I guess would be television personality. A coveted title until now reserved for T.V. presenters and game show hosts. People famous for managing to read from an auto-cue whilst smiling. It’s hardly rocket science is it? Again please someone tell me why the cat Dealey’s of this world should rate higher than these new common or garden varieties.

Now I think the problem with these people is nothing to do with talent or indeed the lack of it. It’s good old fashioned snobbery. How dare these people with no discernible talent be rich and famous without any effort at all? But why not? After all the British upper classes have been getting away with that for years? Celebrity has nothing to do with talent. It never was or our newspapers would be full of glossy pictures of scientists and philosophers. Hello’s front cover would sport pictures of Nobel prize winners. It would include a smiling Stephen Hawking “at home with his family” or sculptors Mo Jupp and Magdalane Odunda “sharing a joke”. The media has systematically ignored talent and skill unless that is, it is accompanied by power and/or good looks. Is this a new phenomena? I think not, just ask Ivana Trump. The Horse and Hound and Vanity Fair have been following the lives of posh people for decades and nobody seems to mind. Isn’t Hello just simply the Tatler of the working classes? Personally I consider them all a total waste of time, but I do resent the notion that I that I should care more about one than the other.

It can’t be the fact that they are taking up page after page of the newspapers that gets to Piers and his like. After all the colour supplements of the Guardian and the Independent are full of people I’ve never even heard of much less care about. Huge full colour spreads showing us round their lovely Moroccan retreats or North London flats. I’ll just open the Sunday review for an example. Here we are, perfect, an article about Carol Drinkwater actress and novelist living in France. Who exactly, you ask? I’m sure she’s perfectly charming and the journalist had a simply wonderful weekend in the south of France doing the interview, but I don’t give a rat’s arse. So I will have to just go read another paper, it all comes down to choice. If I want culture I don’t look for it in Hello. You want tits read the Sun. You want articles on smug middle-aged people, get the Guardian. There is something for everyone out there and that includes celebrities.

Get over it Piers, this is democracy in action. What the great British public wants is people like them. The popularity of reality T.V. stars proves this. The people want to see ordinary people being themselves and hopefully fucking up just as badly as they do themselves. How else would you explain the popularity of Eastenders? Coronation street is another fine example. Here we have a variety of working class people in cramped houses, just getting through their mundane lives in what feels like real time, isn’t this just big brother without the laughs? Ex-soap actress Martine was interviewed as a bonafide star. So actors pretending to be ordinary people is OK but ordinary people on T.V. is not OK? That’s ridiculous. The whole reason people like to watch any of these people is that in our increasingly isolated individualistic world it satisfies our deep-rooted craving for gossip. People are by their very nature nosy, and now thanks to an ever more intrusive media you can spy with impunity. Watch these people from the comfort of your own home without the slightest twitch of your curtains. We love watching stars come and go; the rise and most of all the fall. Their infidelities, heart breaks and divorces read like cautionary tales. We love it because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We can compare our own characteristics to theirs and the more flawed they are the better. We can think at least I’m not as stupid as this one, or as vacuous as another. Just as the Jerry Halls and the Hugh Grants of this world have been showing us for years, It doesn’t mater how much money you have or how shiny your hair, you are still human, still vulnerable. It’s therefore not just me. If things go wrong its not because I have no money and need a hair cut. It’s normal. They go through these things too. It shows us that life can kick you in even the brightest and whitest of teeth.

© Winamop. September 2005

Read old page 94s here.


© Winamop 2005