In the Public Interest? Coming down hard on “celebrity culture”Posted: September 11, 2014
This began life as a reply comment to the blog of my favourite writer, Amy Madden www.writerless.blogspot.co.uk specifically http://writerless.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/eating-rice.html
I didn’t want to talk about specific cases currently under discussion in the US. I don’t follow that sort of news on principle and this was an attempt to explain.
I want to say something about public censure and demonizing of “famous people” for misdemeanors that would barely make three lines in a local community newspaper for anyone else.
Famous People are still people.
They can still be just as mean, judgy, spiteful, violent, perverted, drunken, obnoxious, dirty, selfish, dishonest and unfaithful as that neighbour we are always moaning about. That guy who we are sure is beating his wife, judging from the constant shouting from their apartment.
Do we expect that guy’s boss to sack him? No.
Do we expect that guy will have his professional credentials stripped, invalidated, removed from him because of any or all of his anti-social behaviours? No, unless he is abusing a position of public trust.
Do we even call the police on him? Maybe we do, it depends on context, and what the problem is, but mostly people would rather turn up the stereo in the hope that the shouting goes away. Some people fight as a matter of course anyway and wouldn’t thank you for involving the authorities. If no definite laws have been broken and no bones, then what happened is nobody’s business but theirs. No it doesnt matter if it is Brad and Angelina fighting. It’s still none of our damn business.
Maybe fame and celebrity is a sort of a handicap in some ways? Sure these people may have more money than we do, but nobody becomes Mother Theresa just because they’re famous. Even Mother Theresa was not “all that” apparently.
Just because a person is well known is not carte blanche for people to take their photo when they are walking down the street, or for their body mass index to be discussed on TV as some form of sickening entertainment. If you wouldn’t like that done to you, why are you condoning it happening to other people? That’s discriminatory. We should not look at people whom we consider “famous” as if they have asked to be so minutely scrutinized. We have not democratically elected them to public office, their behaviour is not our concern. They do not represent us. We only need to scrutinise the people whom we have elected as our representatives in that way.
Actors, musicians, film-makers and so on may be “in the Public eye” but they are private individuals who just happen to be in jobs that get their names known. There is no vow that they take to never get drunk or swear or hit people. They carry on being whatever they were before, whether nice or nasty. They didn’t ask permission to be your kid’s role model and they don’t owe your kid their good behaviour. Better that you teach your kid that heroes always have feet of clay and get them focusing on being the best that they can be and not looking for validation from the life and demeanour of some big breasted reality starlet.
There seems to be some confusion about the phrase “In the Public Interest”
It does NOT mean “Things that are of interest to the public”
Celebrities may very well be of interest to the public, but detailed knowledge of their private lives actually goes against the meaning of “In the Public Interest” because it infringes their privacy .. and a violation of personal privacy goes against the interests of us all. If you think it is OK for you to ogle stolen photos of a naked actress, is it not equally ok for your neighbour to ogle stolen photos of your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughter?- hint. None of that is OK
Things that are in the public interest, concerning the private life of individuals, are limited to, for example, a social worker abusing a position of trust, a politician fucking a spy. People’s personal lives should not be in the papers. I appreciate that hitting ones wife isnt legal, but it’s between the man, his wife, the police & the judicial system to decide outcomes. It’s STILL none of YOUR damn business.
The media is bursting with stories that have no place there, & they are not improved by extended speculative comment & half-assed extremist opinions spun out to fill the dragging hours of current affairs coverage or the pull out supplement with diagrams on pages 7 – 25.
Nothing much is ever that newsworthy.
Inflating trivia & the sad personal lives of individuals in that way devalues the impact of real news, for example world events and real stories that are in the public interest like items about healthcare, minimum wage and unions. We have become a planet full of voracious, prurient trivia-nauts, sucking up flawed human beings, picking over their bones and spitting them out, calling them evil, telling them to kill themselves, even after they have served jail time and supposedly reformed. We are unforgiving & trained to see nothing but the monster that has been presented to us as a sacrificial offering. Meanwhile, other people are doing far worse things unseen (do you know about Rotherham?) because the media would rather run a celebrity trivia story than do any actual work. The truth is not profitable.
Celebrity crimes could be as diverse as being an unrepentant racist, or being a bad actress who has put on too much weight. There is no finesse to our hate, no shades & degrees of meaning. A man who killed another man because he is a trigger happy racist seems to be better liked in some quarters than a pop star who puts out a sexy provocative video. We need to have a word with ourselves about how we feed our head, & about who is doing that & why…