Celebrity Traction #2

Mark about the media, the circus of celebrity, and rehabilitation.

Author: Mark Seymour.

Date: 3 December 2008.

Original URL: http://www.markseymour.com.au/blog/index.php


Article Text

Celebrity Traction

You can get a long way in the celebrity stakes if there’s something wrong with you. It can manifest itself in a number of ways. Over-eating is an obvious one that is easily identified by the paparazzi as you stumble out of a doorway with a face full of big mac, no longer the sylph-like nymph that once graced the pepsi billboards on Ventura Boulevard.

On the other hand, you can exploit your downfall by actively pursuing the publicity gravy train with information entirely unrelated to the work you’re promoting, whether it be a CD, or a film, by accompanying said product with a bio that actually states, in no uncertain terms, that you have recently overcome a drug “problem” or any other one of a list of addictive behaviours: Alcohol, sex, gluttony, that you were a victim of abuse of one kind or another but you’ve overcome your problem because you love your fans so much and you know how much they love you too.

Actually I’ll stop there for a mo’. Because there’s a list of nasties that all of us, all the way down the food chain, are tempted by, and may succumb to through zealous repetition as we attempt to grapple with our ‘inner demons.’ On the other hand, bugger the ‘damaged’ bit or the ‘grappling with inner demons’. Maybe it’s just the pursuit of sensual pleasure and that’s it. No excuses. It was just fun and we got caught.

But let me ask you, is the pursuit of sensual pleasure as displayed in others, actually that interesting in itself, say when you’re walking passed the entrance to a bar in Acland Street St.Kilda and some dickhead stumbles out the door and vomits all over you? Of course not. You’d think that the bloke’s “problem” was really banal surely? Just like any other punter who can’t hold their piss.

BUT, what if the bloke was famous? What if he’d been the author of string of successful rock albums? Well, you’d recognize him right? And what if you’d actually seen the bloke’s dial on the tellie two nights before being interviewed by another bloke who’s become re-known for extracting great personal truths from famous people including the vomitter, and you remember thinking what a genius the interviewer was that he was able to extract some really personal stuff out of the vomitter, who actually teared up while stating quite categorically to hundreds of thousands of people at home in their lounge rooms, that he’d been forced to give up alcohol because it was proving to be a huge problem. That it had caused his marriage to break down, that he’d ‘lost everything’, so to speak, and what was even worse, it was actually stifling his “muse” whatever that is. Well, there he was, two days later, or maybe it was a month, ‘cos you never know when they record these things, heaving in the gutter outside the pub, looking absolutely pathetic.

If you were a simple punter yourself, and by that I mean, someone who isn’t famous, you’d have to wonder why the bloke had bothered? Well the answer is simple really.

Telling the world you’re ‘in recovery’ works if sales are down, at least for a while. It’s a popular strategy at the moment. There’s no two ways about it and you can understand the celeb succumbing to the temptation to exploit the public interest in this way especially if he’s still got the problem, that it’s not going away, and it really is affecting his work.

The problem is though, being ‘damaged’ is so commonplace that it won’t hold the public interest for long. After all, we all have our little crosses to bear as my mother liked to put it. But banging on about it in the mass media is ultimately not that different to doing it quietly in the kitchen at parties. You know those really ‘meaningful’ chats you’ve had with complete strangers who were so devastatingly beautiful that you listened, while they bored you to death by talking about their father while you concentrated really hard on watching their mouth move? And you thought to yourself at the time, yes this is a bit like watching tellie.