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There’s no such thing as bad press.

February 26, 2013

In an interview, Ricky Gervais was once asked “have you any advice for anyone who wants to be famous?” He replied with “yes, murder a prostitute”. A controversial answer maybe but I can see the point he was making. The interviewer wasn’t asking if he had any advice for those wanting to further themselves or to create something worthwhile in the world. They went simply to fame – assuming that this was the ultimate craving for today’s generation. Ricky’s reply was spot on. Fame is easy to come by if you’re not bothered about being remembered for being good. After all, why else would the television show ‘Big Brother’ exist?

But I suppose what frustrates me most about fame in society today is the way anyone can be widely regarded as somebody noteworthy – & I say noteworthy in the lightest sense – just simply by being seen on television. It’s ridiculous. Overnight a normal member of the public can gain celebrity status from just a few seconds on screen. Now, to be fair, when I say ‘noteworthy’ I’m referring to those who are interviewed by magazines, have millions of followers on Twitter & thousands of screaming girls rushing over whenever they walk into a supermarket. What is it about being seen on television that catapults someone to instant stardom? Do we still believe that you have to be someone special to appear on the box? This used to be the case decades ago when broadcasters only had a few channels to fill up & so naturally chose to use professionals who were in most part trained to entertain audiences & had some kind of talent.

I appreciate content had to change to remain original & this is what led to ‘reality’ programmes such as ‘Big Brother’. Believe it or not I do welcome original television & film. I was hooked when I watched the first ever ‘Big Brother’. Nasty Nick & Craig the Scouse builder caused such a stir at the time I remember scouring the daily papers on holiday in Greece to read about what was going on. It was a genuine social experiment never really done before & it had real life – yes, real life! – members of the public. There was an element of equal opportunities applied to the house guests chosen, sure, but overall I got the impression most of them were randomly selected. Unlike today where it’s fairly obvious what the producers look for when selecting from the audition tapes.

I don’t even mind these new shows coming to fruition if that’s what others want to view. TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, Celebrity Big Brother (*bites lip*) – put them all on if that’s what people want these days to entertain them. But don’t, I repeat, don’t then turn the ‘stars’ into some kind of role models for the younger generation. They’re not. They may well be good people in real life but what real life advice have they got to offer over strangers in the street? In fact, the only difference between them & strangers in the street is that they had an application form to appear on a television show accepted. I imagine the advice would be something along the lines of “say stupid things then laugh at yourself”, “be ridiculously self involved” & “cry hysterically at nothing”.

I suppose I’m annoyed at those who fuel the obsession with celebrity status. And ultimately that’s those who have jumped on the band wagon given to them by the shows themselves & the media circus that goes with them. If no one bought a magazine, followed on Twitter or watched clips on YouTube there wouldn’t be an industry to fuel. I know there are still legions of those who, like me, think it’s all a load of rubbish & prefer to get their advice from reputable & well respected types. But I fear we’re fighting a generation that will ultimately get so large it becomes the norm.

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