Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rubber-necking the rich and reckless...

I have no problem with celebrity – not mine, that’s just non-existent. Rather the stellar type that is enjoyed by people with names like, Britney, Paris, Lindsay and Nicole and many others in the same vein.

I say I have no problem with it, as we live in a society that is increasingly reliant on reality-voyeurism as a form of on-tap entertainment – its just how we are built, we want escapism in our lives and right now this is it.

Our folks had Paul, John and Ringo (and George) to obsess about – we just have new incarnations of that same celebrity obsessive ness.

Every day we give more and more credence to the cliché, “everybody’s lives are more interesting than mine”.

The thing we miss about that cliché is this. We get to see every bit of our lives – from the moment we wake and make our first cup of coffee to point where we climb into bed at night, we have to live with our lives. When we visit the lives of Brit-Brit and Posh via HEAT, E! or the Backpage, we see just a glimpse, a paparazzi snapshot of these peoples lives – it’s a brief exiting capsule in what other maybe a very boring day in these peoples existence.

Then why are we so interested? I believe it’s the same reason we watch F1 on a Sunday afternoon. We are waiting for the crash. Nobody waits for the 5th of November for the sparklers – we want rockets. Literally we are waiting for the people, who we perceive to be putting themselves on a pedestal, to fall off it. And when they do, its normally in spectacular style.

These people we follow via every media known to man, are currently more famous for their love life, AA meetings and jail sentences, than they are for why we know who they are in the first place.

There are several obvious examples out there.

Firstly the Beckham’s move to the US. If we distil this to its absolute value, what we are talking about here is a family that is moving to a new country. Exiting as it maybe to them, it happens everyday throughout the world to plenty of people right? Of course – but here we have a carefully stage managed move via PR people, media guru’s and agents, engrossing us in someone else’s life and we are lapping it up.

But are we lapping here? Look at it carefully – a footballer who was quite literally at the end of his playing time (sad but true, in Europe Dave was pretty much at the end of his days) and a once-famous pop star of a super-girl group, who failed (several times) at striking out in her own career – because she is just not that talented – no disrespect but she isn’t and she knows it. Ultimately their careers are in decline.
What she does know is how to stay in the spotlight. She is making us watch two good-looking has-beens arrive in a new country and engross us in their lives. She hasn’t released anything in ages and he hasn’t really kicked a ball for a while – not even since arriving in the States – but we are still watching.

Britney is the same in man respects. Her career is in decline and has been for 4 years now – the last album didn’t quite make the grade and straight up I cannot remember when I last played any of her tunes on my show…if I was still playing clubs, there isn’t a chance in hell I would play a Britney tune.

So what is she famous for? Crashing out. Several times over in the last three years and we were there with her, screaming, “we told you so” all the way.

First she got married to human-scrap – the world knew it but she rebelled and went ahead with it. Then the kids, the new trailer trash image and finally the divorce and resulting pantyless, partying and vomiting that went with it.

We loved her when she was on top, but now we cant remember what that was like, so instead we are loving the fact she has fallen…we relish it…she’s not better than us now – she may have cash and nice cars but she is unhappy…her life is far worse than ours and that makes us feel better and we are entertained.

Paris ended up in jail – we cheered! The anorexic, ex-heroine addict, now pregnant Nicole Ritchie is also heading for the chookie – 4-days behind bars for DUI…soon to be an unmarried mother…now there’s a role model for you.

Lindsay Lohan? She has made a total of 3 or 4 movies, one when she was 13 – one about a VW beetle and the other where she played a mean bitch in high school (much acting?). My point is we are not watching Judy Dench in decline here. We are watching a barely-adult women, with several dangerous addictions and an apparent inability to say no or drive, parade in front of us daily on our TV’s – and that ultimately is what she is famous for. Being screwed up.

It may sound like I am bitter. I’m not. This is how we entertain ourselves right now and this too will pass. It always does and something else will come along, glittery and shiny to grab our attention in new direction.

Elvis and the Beatles were exchanged for various versions of New Kids On The Block, and Backstreet boys. The latter were lost to Eminem and 50 cent.

My worry right now is that what we are engrossed in, is celebrity versions of car crashes. We are rubber-necking the lives of rich-nonentities to make life better.

After all, what is entertainment? It’s something that takes our mind away from our lives for a while, suspends reality (the irony) and a makes us feel better as humans.