Friday, June 01, 2007

Summer of celebrity

Probably at a similar time last year (check the archives), I embarked on my customary 'Big Brother is shit' rant. Naturally I watched this year's launch show, because to criticise something you don't know anything about is a double standard, and also because if I am to hold a conversation over the next few months, I will no doubt need some inside knowledge on it. So my brief thoughts: twins, I would, Posh Spice wannabe, I would, Emily, I would. The rest don't deserve even the little consideration I've given to those four there.

Anyway, Big Brother 8 (eight, for fuck's sake, wasn't 1, maybe 2 enough?) will no doubt be at the forefront of the tabloid newspapers until September/Madeleine is found alive/dead, and the inevitability of it just depresses me. Alright, they've filled the house with women for the first few days. And yes, in with the weird looking (possible man Tracey) and the plain weird (embalming-obsessed Laura), they've thrown in a couple of normal girls and plain, older women who probably just want a bit of fame. Where my problem lies is that they're going to get it, in shedloads, all summer, and for the rest of 2007, for doing absolutely nothing at all, and being absolute non-entities (Emily apart, she should be the next queen).

This country's saddening obsession with creating celebrities, putting people up on pedestals is just verging on the ridiculous now. Take those twins. If I want to see rather empty headed, slightly vain but attractive 18 year old blondes giggle and dress alluringly, I'd sit in Bournemouth town centre for an hour, cut eye holes in a newspaper and voyeur. That sort of girl exists in every town in every corner of Britain; I don't need a television screen and 24 hour coverage to see, understand, and have confirmed for me, their behaviour. Yet when they're evicted (or worse, WIN), they'll have lads mags shoots, television interviews, radio interviews, fashion lines I expect...for what? They're nothing but day to day girls, cherry picked (I wonder if they've had their cherries picked) from a million other girls exactly the same to appear on television, and be lauded over by a mass audience somehow TOO STUPID to realise that these people are outside on their doorsteps anyway.

The poorest part of this creating celebrity - note, the point is that we don't just worship them now, we make our own idols from anywhere and anyone - is that, in a typically British fashion, we set them up with huge, great expectations, perfect suckers for a fall when the realisation dawns that oh yes, they're normal people, and then take utter and intense delight in that fall from grace anyway. What does it say, that this country's press and Big Brother watching masses can create a self-sufficient circus of news, gossip and celebrity, that lasts for an entire year, with the only proviso that Endemol gets round to picking 14-odd people and building a house for them once every 12 months? Perhaps this famous quote, from hundreds of years ago, speaks for itself.

"The People, who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions; everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" Juvenal, Roman satirist.

The other story, of course, from which we have not heard the last but may well fade over the summer, is of Britain's newest celebrity couple: Kate and Gerry McCann. Having flown into Rome for a chat with the Pope, as all devout Catholics are able to do of course, no matter where they're from or their status, the McCann clan are now off to Amsterdam and Berlin, taking in some of Europe's greatest cities and enjoying an extended summer holiday, having already stayed in Portugal and Spain over the last month.

I'm not sure who's paying for their European tour; but, despite having played already to sell out crowds in Wembley, Athens and Hampden Park, their fans are still urged to donate their money to a fund (confusingly entitled and to contribute more to the total, which stands at nearly £590,000.

In all seriousness: These people have lost a child. They are NOT Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And £590,000 donated to a fund that does nothing, and serves no one. Next Big Brother will be donating their entire text message voting revenue to the website, and the world will implode in a tidal wave of tears from false compassion.

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