Saturday, December 29, 2007

Car crash media

Stephen King is in Time magazine bemoaning the fact that we're more interested in Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan than Iraq. This is a horror writer and he's complaining about our obsession with triviality. In the pages of Time magazine.

I've got nothing against King or Ricky Gervais or Damon Albarn but I am getting tired of prominent people using their bully pulpits to publicly wonder why we're (it's always us, never them) so interested in the misadventures of over-stimulated young airheads. Surely, they say, this is a conspiracy on the part of the media. Surely we're only consuming it because it's jammed down our throats.

Well, no. We like a good story about the wheels coming off a prominent life because it's a rare example of the spin machine breaking down and allowing us to see things as they really are. Over the last twenty years PR has invaded every sphere of our lives with the result that most of the information and entertainment we get has been drained of the tang of real life. Everybody is so concerned about saying the wrong thing that they no longer say anything at all. Celebrities no longer say anything memorable on chat shows or in magazine interviews. No wonder we have invented our own mini-celebs who can be depended on to blurt at the drop of a hat.

So if Britney or Lindsay or Amy is weeping in the gutter at the end of a difficult evening we will slow down and have a look. As will Stephen King. I don't think we'll stop and get out. That would be ghoulish. But let's not pretend we're not interested.


  1. Anonymous11:37 am

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  2. Quite. One of the first lessons I learned when I was a journalist was never to let the subject use your publication to slag off the media; now interviewees never seem to do anything else. My special celebrity hell is reserved for those names who appear in prime-time, populist shows who refuse to do publicity in anything other than broadsheet newspapers, in which they slag off the general obsession with celebrity, forgetting that it's the mass audience that give them fame and money. And these up-yer-bum interviews put no bums on seats for the programme they're supposed to be promoting.

  3. Anonymous8:48 pm

    I have to say I enjoyed Ricky Gervais's tirade against the cult of celebrity in Extras, while at the same time finding it a bit rich. The biting the hand that feeds you stance he adopts is presented as an act of rebellion, but is really a case of having it both ways. I've seen him do stand up where he swaggers about the stage bragging about his Baftas. Doing it with an ironic smirk doesn't fool anyone.