Famous for being famous – at what price?

Posted: October 25, 2009 in Entertainment
Tags: , , , , ,

We live in a very much celebrity-oriented culture nowadays, where children are being shown by television and other media that rather than aiming for good honest professions when they grow up, they can be a “celebrity”. Most people won’t even know why Jordan is famous (she was a page 3 model in her teens, but that’s about it), but her face gets plastered all over the rag magazines and the tabloids as if she’s done something incredibly newsworthy. Often, the case is that she is getting press attention just because she’s out on the pull.

Peter Andre finally got his divorce from Jordan through this week, and I can tell you exactly who was the happier about it. Whilst Peter may have been happy to court attention during their marriage, I am willing to bet that he did it not under his own decision, but because of the driving need of his wife to remain constantly in the public eye. It’s ridiculous that they got so much airtime under the guise of being a happily married couple, that almost every aspect of their life, their marriage, their privacy, was played out in the public eye. Is that what we are as a nation now, a bunch of fame-hungry sluts willing to do anything, no matter what the cost, just to get on TV and be famous for a tiny period of time?

It’s happening in America as well. On Saturday, Mayumi Heene, the mother of the boy who caused national TV chaos when they all thought he was inside a weather balloon set free from his parents’ back yard admitted it was a hoax. Their family had appeared on US Wife Swap a while back, and had become accustomed to being on the TV. The whole idea of the balloon fake was to help get them back on TV, and market themselves for more reality TV. Are people really that stupid and obsessed with fame that they will go to such lengths just for that buzz? The poor kid that went along with it must have been so scared when he thought he was in trouble for hiding in the loft of his house. Once he let something slip about how it was planned on a US chat show, the parents’ back story crumbled, and the hoax became apparent.

Without wanting to take the parents away from their children, surely they need to be put in jail to show that their actions (costing massive amounts of resources and police time) cannot go unpunished. And I hope that this will show that there is a cost to fame and celebrity. That family will forever be scrutinised by the people they called friends, never trusted, and certainly never allowed the fame they craved so much. A worthy price for their 15 minutes?

Back to the UK, and it was announced this summer that Channel 4 would not be renewing their contract with Endemol to screen more Big Brother shows after 2010. Perhaps the fame bubble is bursting, after all the only people who want to appear on that show now are the desperately fame-hungry, willing to parade themselves as anything if it gets them famous. It has been going downhill for years as people realised it was an easy ticket to getting noticed. You had people like Jade Goody, a not all that bright girl but probably decent enough, twisted by the lights of fame. She became famous because of her lack of intelligence, and she used that to great effect. Unfortunately it turned the whole of her life into a media circus, including her death from cancer. How sad a statement of our society when a magazine releases an obituary special before you’re even dead. I truly hope that her children will turn their backs on the limelight and grow up to be thoroughly decent young people.

The craze for reality TV happened because it was cheap, easy TV…you never had to pay scriptwriters, other than for the presenter’s links, and the “stars” didn’t have to be paid to appear. The problem is that reality TV never showed anything like real life. The Channel 4 series “The Family” focused on a middle-class family and their day-to-day lives. Were they chosen because they represented the average family in the UK? No. They were chosen because they were the type of people that could make massive mountains out of the smallest molehills, and it made for good telly. Except in this case it really didn’t…The Family was boring, self-centred and often very unfunny. Channel 4 are apparently looking for a new family to film for a second series. I’m guessing they won’t be choosing the Heene family!

Anyway, here’s a plan for the final series of Big Brother: gather 20 of the craziest and most fame-obsessed people in the country, put them all in the house, then forget to tell anyone and forget to turn the cameras on. Then film their reactions each week as another one leaves with nobody at all standing in the viewer’s area outside, no presenter, nothing. The tantrums, the disappointment, the rage at there being nobody there…now THAT would make great reality TV.

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