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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The harmless TV fun of today may produce the scandals of tomorrow

Toyah Willcox said an interesting thing on this week's programme on Radio Four about Smash Hits when talking about the relatively benign world of 80s pop stardom. "Nowadays," she said, "I think of fame as something dark and abusive."

I know what she meant. However, the majority of people seem to associate seediness exclusively with the past. I overheard some thirtyish blokes in the pub talking about the police investigation of Jimmy Savile. They seem to have arrived at the view that anyone who had been on Radio One in the seventies was, to use the great contemporary smear-all, "dodgy". This seemed to apply particularly if they'd worn a tank top. People like things to look the way they do in their prejudices.

Scandal's no respecter of eras. I don't have any evidence but I can't help suspecting that when our 21st century world of reality TV and searches-for-a-star finally lands in a ditch at the side of the road, a lot of victims will crawl from the wreckage and some of them may have very "dark and abusive" stories to tell. Since so many of those swept up in this gold rush have been wide eyed innocents or people with fragile self-esteem, there's bound to be fall-out. At which point a lot of the same people currently celebrating it all as harmless fun may abruptly change their tunes.