Edward Bernays, the ” Father of Modern public relations” wrote that “The public’s ability to create its own heroes from wisps of impressions and its own imagination, and to build them almost into flesh and blood gods, fascinates me.” I had the same feeling about TV producers’ creativity when watching the cheap Battenberg cake of terrestrial TV Celebrity Big Brother.
Last night as the wannabe stunna from Wickford, Chantelle Houghton escaped eviction by convincing the real celebrities (surely some mistake) that she was a star of a girl band. Channel 4 and Endemol have thrown a new zombie to the tabloids to help generate column inches for ratings to drive premium line revenue.
Production companies are constantly suggesting show formats that pluck nobodies to make hours of cheap TV, to see if they might become somebodies. I can imagine the excitement at the production office as the “Chantelle hook” was suggested to spice up the current Celebrity Big Brother. I have always posited that to create a celebrity there needs to be evidence that the person has to want to forge a deal with the devil; sacrificing and laying down their all to the pagan God of fame. The proof that Chantelle is a willing disciple to this cult is all around us, if we can be bothered to look? In the space of two days, various cheesy shots of the poor girl in various states of undress have been sold to the tabloids. We have discovered in the Sunday’s that she is a monster in bed, and in another spread we find out that she makes a few bob being a Paris Hilton look-alike. Waking up this morning we are subjected to the required trial Page Three shoot. Give the bimbo a break; she has done an apprenticeship of sorts. Chantelle is proof that X List celebrity is the profession of choice in thousands of secondary schools up and down the country, the easy route in Civvy Street. The example that modern TV sets is that the joys and riches bestowed on this low brow eye candy are far more preferable than a career in a real profession of worth.
Perhaps one day Chantelle might reflect on being an exploited exhibit in the freak show created by a modern day Barnum that will make considerable revenue out of a simple naivety. Don’t moan Chantelle, after all you did get a few VIP passes to a nightclub of your choice for a few months, from your 15 minutes of fame? There is a chance to meet a boy band member thrown into the limelight by a similar set of circumstances. If marriage is the end result of the union, don’t expect flowers from the fat cat TV mogul sunning him or herself in their Caribbean retirement home, they have got far too rich on this soulless naivety to look back at the Frankenstein’s monsters that they have forged.
Part of the challenge in CBB was that Chantelle sing her number 58 hit “I Want It Right Now.” I suggest that there is some spiv in a back street some where now booking a studio for her to record it. I wonder if Endemol have tried to sell the idea to E4 to do a reality show on the record’s release. I am sure that the current production team will be tempted to edit the show to see if a non celebrity can win Celebrity Big Brother. Now that’s a stunt that PT Barnum would be proud to pull.