Celebrity World …

America it has to be said does seem to be very much in love with its so called “celebrities”, and I’m afraid that this is something that leaves me stone-cold and feeling somewhat like a Martian visitor to this planet. Don’t get me wrong, in many cases I very much enjoy what it is that they do by way of entertaining us, but there – unlike many other people – my interest ends. I am happy to go to the movies and be enthralled by their prowess on the big-screen for example, but once the credits  roll at the end I’m done. I have absolutely no interest in where they live, how big their house is, how much money they make – or what especially seems to vex the masses if celebrity mags are to be believed – who they are currently having sex with…..

It used to be said that Americans viewed Hollywood superstars as their own form of royalty, and treated them appropriately. Sadly this fails with me too as I am something of a republican (with a small ‘r’ and nothing whatsoever to do with the American political party !). In 2008 I find it somewhat absurd that some people are still accorded  status and position by dint of their birth – something we British are exceedingly good at is bowing and scraping before our supposed betters… I’ve always liked the fact that the highest title one can accord a person in this country is simply “Mr President”.

I think our current Queen does a magnificent job, and have nothing but praise for her work and dedication – but the rest of her extended family are a bunch of wastrels whose only purpose in life seems to be providing cannon-fodder for the more salacious tabloids.  I have a degree of sympathy for Prince Charles’ two sons, who after all were only doing those things that everyone else does that mark a certain rite-of-passage, but grew heartily sick of reading about them in the newspapers. On one occasion I remember Harry was spotted at a fancy dress party wearing a uniform that included an armband with a swastika on it… Unfortunately someone with a cell-phone camera (and don’t get me going about the modern era of such communication devices being necessarily all good) spotted him and no doubt made a very large sum of money by selling the resulting photo to one of the gutter-trawling red-topped tabloids. From the resulting outcry you would think that he had just signed up for life membership with the local Nazi party – come on, it was a fancy dress party !

In the heyday of Hollywood, at least all of those who were the subject of the nation’s adulation actually contributed something positive via their labours – nowadays there are a whole host of celebrities who are famous for well – just being famous…. I am not saying that celebrity worship is something that is unknown in England – far from it – but it is the scale of the thing here that both amazes and bothers me. As I pass the supermarket checkout I am surrounded by a plethora of tabloid size mags whose covers proclaim the latest must-know news about “Brad and Jen” in a proprietorial way that suggests that somehow we “own” them or at least part of their very essence. One day as I was waiting patiently in line the lady in front of me had gathered every single title she could find. There must have been five or six such publications there on the conveyor belt, and I was sorely tempted to turn to her and say “Get a life !”. That some feel the need to live so vicariously though the lives of people they in all likelihood will never meet just astounds me… Even if I was mildly interested in what they were doing (which I’m not), I simply don’t have the time to immerse myself in this kind of fantasy-land celebrity tittle-tattle. Again – understand, I bear them no ill-will at all. In fact I want to see all people as happy and fulfilled as they can be, so good luck to them. I wouldn’t trade places with them and their undoubted wealth for all the tea in China, but I just wish that once those final credits ran – that would be the end of things.

Its not only the tabloid mags at the grocery store checkout that give a clue to this nation’s obsession with celebrity – every evening during what counts for their “primetime” slots, each of the networks has their own TV program whose sole purpose is to quench this insatiable thirst for celebrity gossip. My local cable provider has furnished us with the following descriptions of what is on offer:

This daily syndicated newsmagazine delivers the latest in celebrity buzz, ranging from couples breaking up or making up to the latest action on the Hollywood singles scene.

This entertainment-focused show is heavy on celebrity gossip and behind-the-scenes stories in Hollywood.

A nightly, half-hour newsmagazine syndicate spun off from “Entertainment Tonight,” “The Insider” shares with viewers the details of celebrity life with first-person interviews, behind the scenes reports, and “inside information.”

Enough already !

(one of the American colloquial expressions I have picked up whose sound so nicely matches the intent of the phrase’s meaning)

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