All entries for Wednesday 10 January 2007

January 10, 2007

The Price Of Fame

Whilst watching the news yesterday I stumbled across one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. The report in question was about paparazzi hounding of Kate Middleton, Prince William’s girlfriend. She was greeted, upon leaving her house on her 25th birthday, by a swarm of photgraphers who then proceeded to follow her down the street taking photos photos from close range. It all looked completely undignified and distressing. Then, when she had gotten away, one moronic snapper had to gall to justify his actions by saying “She’s famous, she should expect this”.

If only they were so retro…

The absurdity of this statement goes beyond the usual crap you get from media types. He was essentially saying that she has given them the right to intrude so directly into her life by being famous. But has she? Kate Middleton works for a high street retailer doing something so boring and admin-like that I don’t even know what it is. She does not go to showbiz parties; she does not work in a job which exposes her face, her voice, her thoughts to the world; she would never in a million years be in any way media notable if it wasn’t for her boyfriend. And just because of who she fell for (a process we have no control over) she is ‘famous’ and deserving of harrassment?

People become famous these days for either being good at something we like, good at getting famous, or for the sort of spurious, out-of-their-control reasons which Miss Middleton has experienced. Fame for the latter two groups is a simple thing, one group craves it and the other gets it whether they want it or not (most likely the latter). But the media has created both these groups from the first group – the charismatic, extrovert, talented and popular actors, singers, footballers, etc, who became famous for what they did or had. Looking back decades Charlie Chaplin was the world’s most famous man because he made the best movies in the world. These days you can get a similar level of media saturation by being a rather insignificant musician with a drug habit, model girlfriend and the attention of the media. People can’t make themselves anymore, the media makes them for us. And this will include those who do not want to be made.

Greta Garbo

Interest in the potential future monarch’s partner is understandable but the level of interest, the depth of the media’s invasion is excessive. I really don’t know who wants to see a picture of a young woman having her birthday ruined by paparazzi. There have always been people were coy about the spotlight, famous cases like Greta Garbo for instance, but they were exceptions because they were important. Garbo was a legendary actress, an icon who had voluntarily put herself in front of millions as an actress but always made clear that offscreen she was a private person. She could do this because there wasn’t such an invasive press in those days – what press invasion she experienced surprised her and made her more reclusive. Were she alive today it seems unlikely that she would follow the same career path at all.

There are a lot of talented actors, singers, etc, who we are being deprived of because they don’t want to play the media game which will cost them any privacy. Whilst I admit to being as intrigued by the private lives of celebrities I like, I can quite easily cope without knowing or seeing photos if it will prevent them from being harassed. We run the risk of having a media world entirely populated by the fame hungry, who may or may not have talent, rather than those who would actually be any good at acting, singing, etc. We’re going to end up with the famous people we deserve – fame hungry and mostly talent deficient. And Kate Middleton is going to end up with a harassment she doesn’t deserve.

For crying out loud, she works in retail admin!

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