I’m still recovering from a sold out Hay Festival appearance and the blazing sun. I’d forgotten how wonderful the Festival can be when the weather’s good!
The discussion, Hype and Glory, with the Guardian’s Marina Hyde and our excellent chair, Paul Blezard, was wide ranging and got an excellent response from the audience. Marina wanted to reclaim the world from celebrities and wanted real people with real talent to get recognition. Why should Angelina Jolie be the face of the UN when there are committed and talented people out there who, though less glamorous, do all the hard and amazing work that Jolie is employed to make palatable to the people.
The crux of the talk was who will stop the process of fame at any cost and foreshadowed the results and aftermath of Saturday evening’s Britain’s Got Talent final perfectly. The media love a good celebrity meltdown and there is no doubt that the people who own the formats dictate the stars – and the events on Britain’s Got Talent and in its wake prove this without the shadow of a doubt.
It’s great that Diversity won – here’s a group of talented dancers who represent the best of Britain – but it’s the meteoric rise and post-loss wobble of Susan Boyle that will hold the media’s attention for longer. It’s clear that Boyle has problems – she was diagnosed as having learning difficulties as a child – and has invested way too much of herself in the rollercoaster media ride through the talent contest, as her admission to the Priory for ‘exhaustion’ proves.
Jan Moir at the Mail summed up Boyle’s performance as follows: “Boyle did seem a trifle unsteady, not to mention tranquilised during the final. Yet I still phoned in my vote for her, because she delivered the most compelling and thrilling performance of the evening.” To read the entire article, click here.
The programme has a duty of care to its contestants, but how far will they take that when there’s money at stake?
Carole Malone, in her column in yesterday’s News of the World, worries about this too: “TV bosses have a duty of care to EVERY contestant on that show-but Susan needed more support and I don’t think she’s had it. I just hope they don’t – but I worry that once BGT is over, the powers that be will wash their hands of her. No one wants to be responsible for her losing it or coming to any mental or physical harm-especially because of a show that purports to change people’s lives for the better,” she wrote. To see her entire column, click here.
There have always been troubled stars – from Gwili Andre, who I have discussed here (and in my book The Fame Formula) before, to Judy Garland. Back in the glory days, however, the stars were protected from the ugly side of fame and the intense scrutiny that is now the norm. Now, of course, we are getting to see the nightmare of fame thanks to the people’s constant, urgent need for soap opera and the media’s willingness to supply it.
On another note, I noticed that David Milliband slipped into the discussion – perhaps to learn a bit more about spin and how to patch up tarnished reputations – just as I was getting into my stride about the need for people such as myself going into schools to talk to children about the true price of fame. It was noticeable that the more political I got about fame the more uncomfortable he got, to the point that he slipped out almost as soon as he’d arrived. A shame; it would have been interesting to get his viewpoint…