Posts Tagged Jordan

Hard to Spill

Hard to Spill

It’s like the sordid saga of the ubiquitous blow-up doll Jordan and the toad-faced Antipodean Peter Andre: they love each other, then they don’t. Then they do again. Then there’s a massive row about nothing, with all media hell breaking loose; mirrors are smashed, cars are crashed, million-pound photo opportunities are finally dashed. Of course, the truth is that there was nothing there in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

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I know I really shouldn’t care, but… lol.

I know I really shouldn't care, but... lol.

Yesterday I wrote about the Stephen Fry Twitter hissy fit, and in extending this to talk about victimhood-seekers in general I threw in the name of Jordan aka Katie Price. Well, the folks at the Guardian have kept this non-story running, and surprise, surprise…

…yesterday Katie Price broke down in no-more-than-140-character sections, telling her “haters” to just attack her and get it off their, er, chest (her words).

So in what appears to be a game of Twitter victimhood poker, Jordan has called Fry. I cannot wait to see what is going to come next – is he going to go all in with the revelation that his maternal great-great-great grandfather was the cabin boy on the Amistad?

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Is this news?

Is this news?

Is it just me, or does anybody else find Stephen Fry rather annoying? Not content to serve us with a barrage of what can best be described as his self-indulgent tales of woe and misery, he now makes the news (though, I ask, is it actually news?) after getting into a hissy fit with some faceless critic on the Internet.

“Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around.” Hmm. He’s lucky he doesn’t have me following him then, doesn’t he?

As much as I enjoyed his performance as Melchett in Blackadder, I have never understood what Fry has actually done to be elevated – in some minds, at least – to the status of “national treasure”. As far as I can see the man is no better or worse than any other comedian, the occasional florid witticism notwithstanding. He is hoisted up as some sort of intellectual heavyweight for no other reason than he appears to have an opinion on almost everything, though this opinion is delivered in what is admittedly a rich and soothing baritone.

If anything, Fry has shown a rather uncanny ability to make the most out of being a victim; from his admission of having bipolar disorder and his homosexuality through to his almost comedic breakdown on Who Do You Think You Are? where he revealed previously unknown Jewish roots, there is a clear pattern there. He is, in a sense, the almost perfect victim; it reminds me of a hilarious exchange on Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David, on being told that his manager Jeff had a gay cousin that escaped Nazi Germany, merely splutters “talk me about being ostracized. Gay Jew in Nazi Germany? He must’ve had a hard time. What a combo!”

When you throw in bipolar as well, you can arguably claim to have the full house. In terms of victim status, Stephen Fry is the undoubted market leader – unless of course you wish to include someone like Jordan, who has recently played her latest victim card in claiming that she was raped before she became famous. I can see no reason why we need to be told about this – or what we can possibly gain from acquiring this knowledge – but someone, somewhere, is lapping it all up.

OK, so Stephen Fry suffers from bipolar disorder. Yes, I feel sorry for the guy – but just don’t get why his fawning followers in the media feel the need to keep telling the entire world about it in the vain hope of expecting them to be nice to him on the Internet. It’s like a new discussion exit strategy – you can’t criticise me/him/her – I/he/she has bipolar disorder. It’s right up there with invoking Adolf Hitler or the Nazis (or both) when an argument isn’t quite going your way.

In a sense, Fry is the living embodiment of the spirit of post-Blair Britain, a Britain that is obsessed with the personal foibles of so-called celebrities and with it the mythologising of victimhood. It is the genesis of all of those rather cloying tributes to dead reality TV personalities; the Urquelle of those morbidly nauseating childhood biographies that one can find in abundance on supermarket shelves. Stephen Fry and the likes of Jordan, Kerry Katona and Jade Goody may be poles apart in terms of background and intellectual ability, but they are two sides of the same coin in that they have all profited from what I would consider a bizarre wave of manufactured public sympathy.

I just find all of this curious in the extreme, but then I suppose you need to be a victim – at least to some degree – in order to understand it. What this actually says about the British public, I couldn’t begin to imagine.

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“A cognitive malaise”

"A cognitive malaise"

For all of the dross one can find online – badly written articles, fansites dedicated to the fictitious lives of soap characters, spam advertising – there are some gems out there on the Internet. One such gem is the article published today by writer and physician Raymond Tallis that provides an startlingly accurate critique of the celebrity culture that in slowly infecting the cultural fabric of Western society.

I could not have described this phenomenon any better:

This is the celebrity culture, and some will tell you that if it makes you vomit or rage, “just get over it”. Even King Canute (that one-factoid celebrity) gave up when he saw the ice-cream vans floating in the sea. Besides, there are, surely, worse curses: violence, greed, poverty and — looking farther afield — civil war, dictatorship, plague. Even so, celebrity is a curse […] It is a cognitive malaise that affects us all.

Tallis namedrops the usual suspects: Amy Winehouse, whose undoubted talent pales into insignificance against the dark backdrop of her sordid private life; Katie Price aka “Jordan”, an uncouth nonentity whose claim to fame has little or nothing to do with any form of talent, and Victoria Beckham, a feckless nobody who has somehow been elevated in some very soft minds as the queen of what is bright and beautiful. He fails however to mention the late Jade Goody, who inspite of her utter gormlessness was some presented as the nation’s latest official celebrity culture martyr.

The celebrity culture is a black hole sucking up light. It is not only a manifestation of the cretinisation or tabloidisation of our culture but further cretinises it.

Most of us with more than a single brain cell know that such individuals are total nobodies without their publicists and agents; the problem is that while even twenty years ago people like this would have had their fifteen minutes only to rightfully fade away into deserved obscurity, today there is so much money to be made that they are more often than not set up for life. This of course means that they are continually able to buy their way back into the limelight. Perform some inane act. “Write” a book. Get commissioned by the BBC to get sent around the world at the licence payer’s expense to talk about things they clearly know sweet bugger all about.

Why must we have Steven Fry tell us about endangered species? OK, he may have a passing interest in the subject, but is he there because he is a naturalist, because he is educated in the field? Or is it because we simply know his face? Instead of sending Fry to the back of beyond, the BBC could have spent a fraction of the cash and employed someone with a real qualified interest – someone who, perhaps, could become the next David Attenborough. Instead of sending the “comedy Brit abroad” Paul Merton to India, they could send someone with a genuine cultural interest; instead of having someone like Tony Robinson host all of these programmes on ancient history, they could provide us with a real historian.

Stephen Fry: A comedy Attenborough?

Stephen Fry: A comedy Attenborough?

I am actually waiting for the next documentary feature on the First World War to come out, which would be fronted by the team from Blackadder goes Forth. We would have Lieutenant George fill us in on the life of the upper classes, old Slackbladder himself provide us with tales of the regular professional soldier, and General Melchett would give us the gen on what things were like for those who sat far behind the lines. Of course, the louse-ridden Baldrick would give us a gritty take on what life was like for the rat-eating regular Tommy. The actual educational value of such a project like most of this sort of expensive guff would be minimal, but it would certainly draw in the viewers – and perhaps an expensive covershoot and interview for the Radio Times.

Of course, this is at the high end of the scale; at the bottom of the pile we have those who have got to where they are for no real reason at all. If you work hard doing a decent job for most of your life, you will simply remain one of the crowd; however if you perform fellatio on a professional footballer or happen to be the publicity-hungry girlfriend of an alleged rapist, you can – with the right publicist, of course – become a celebrity in your own right. I am not just making this up, of course: I will have to admit to having heard of both Rebecca Loos and Abi Titmuss. They even have names that suit; you cannot make any of it up.

Of course, one could justifiably argue that the fact the likes of Raymond Tallis (and me for that matter) are spending time writing about this stuff is proof that those of us who would consider ourselves critics of this nonsense have also been infected with the virus. It is perhaps galling to admit, but it is true that one has to absorb part of something to be in the position to offer a critique of it, let alone outright condemnation.

At least I am able to draw the lines; what scares me is that we are witnessing a generation who have grown up on this rubbish and know little better. The fact that many young people admire the lifestyle of these media-manufactured oxygen thieves is even more terrifying; it does chill me when I see one of those documentaries where a six-year old girl – with all the genuine honesty of a six-year old – tells everyone that she wants to be like Jordan when she grows up.

*Shudder*

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