The death of celebrity?

(January 13, 2016)

The so called ‘cult of celebrity’ slides ever deeper into the seemingly bottomless pit from which, with luck it may eventually reach the depths of well-deserved obscurity. The expectation that we may see the nadir of being a ‘celebrity’ merely by being ‘famous for nothing’ is much to be desired. Perhaps, in time with the unlamented demise of ‘celebrity’ the value of talent will resurface. Every time I read about how tough it is to be a musician and how hard they have to work to bring their talent to wider audiences, I remain exasperated, annoyed and frustrated by the simplicity with which the entirely talent-free can apparently achieve ‘celebrity’ status. 

The recipe appears to be simple – forget striving to hone skills or perfect an art, simply take the shortcut. Take part in a televised reality show (sic) and be so appalling that the media ‘laughs’ at you by providing endless coverage, appear on early evening television with your breasts practically hanging out, become vastly overweight and live off the state, exhibit apocalyptically boorish behaviour or stumble your way through so-what soaps and once dropped, inveigle your way into a tedious programme in a jungle or an artificial house.

The fanatical obsession with celebrity has even transcended the need to be ‘beautiful’. Once only the province of plastic, orange-tanned Kens and Barbies with perfect bodies but not one ounce of talent and only a couple of brain cells between them, now we have celebrities that are famous for being anything but perfect. Those non-perfect ‘celebrities’ now treat us to the results of their awful plastic surgery, overtly gauche tattoos, abuse of other competitors, a propensity for sexist, racist or homophobic remarks or generally behaving like an absolute tosser.

Consider almost any ‘reality’ programme, based around music or not, and these ‘celebrated’ individuals are there. They are spawned by such delights as: ‘I’m A Has-Been or a Never-Was Get Me Out of Here’, ‘Unknown and Pretentious Twats in a House’, ‘The Only Way is East of London’, ‘Britain’s Got Deranged Idiots’, ‘Fat, Dumb and Happy’, ‘Rich People Turning Round in Chairs’, ‘The Watch the Judges being Pompous Factor’  … the list is endless. Now before I’m told that I don’t have to watch this drivel. You’re right, I don’t. And I won’t. I would rather chew off my left foot. However, every time such unmitigated crap pours out of the media it becomes just that little bit harder for true talent to be recognised. Each time the world sees artists as products produced by awful, scripted competitions the art of songwriting suffers another blow. Whenever a bunch of pubescent boys are described as a ‘band’, when they’re really so called ‘eye candy’ that can only sing as long as auto-tuning exists it’s another nail in the coffin.

I realise that I may be a lone voice crying in the wilderness but how I wish I had the money, facilities, etc. to create programmes that places talent first and the desire to be nothing more than a celebrity absolutely nowhere. Until such time I will console myself with writing for this vehicle, and doing my level best to support organisations that help musicians produce and circulate their work.

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