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Posts Tagged ‘Celebrity’

Lemme start off by saying that I’m no fan of girl groups. Nor boy bands. Nor any homogenised battalion with their own colour scheme and dance moves. Though I’m going to rant about a sneering take on Irish popstrel Una Healy, I must admit that haven’t heard a single song from her band, The Saturdays. I wouldn’t know The Saturdays if they’d been creeping into my lugs at night and crooning subliminal messages directly into my noggin. I’m not writing this from the perspective of an indignant fan, in other words. I’m an indignant twenty-nine year old Irishwoman, though, which gives me more than enough in common with my subject.

So yes, Una Healy is a gorgeous strawberry-blonde pop vocalist. Once a struggling singer-songwriter, she now makes up 20% of The Saturdays, and so is appropriately dolled-up and adorned with sparkly things. Last weekend’s Sunday Independent featured a piece by Niamh Horan, calling out Ms. Healy for being a bad role model and a drunken mess, basically because the writer has seen paparazzi images of Una looking rather worse for wear on a number of early-hours occasions. Her latest excursion resulted in her taking a tumble in front of waiting photographers, who naturally zoomed in and went all out.

Ms. Horan was most put-out by the whole thing.

…you’ve got to wonder what her parents must think. Not to mention her reserved country and Irish musician uncle Declan Nerney.

Indeed. Especially as Una was wearing a

… skirt up to her backside

… at the time, which I would have thought was probably her lot in life, being a member of a girl group. And hey, it’s not like she was out there wearing fishnets as trousers with a gigantic teabag on her head. Though if she was, we’d probably swoon and call it art, eh, Lady Gaga?

I was rightly riled by Horan’s attack on Healy. Whatever you may think about booze culture in the UK and Ireland, or about wimminfolk wearing minidresses in January, what’s righteous about singling out a grown woman celebrating a friend’s birthday and haughtily hypothesising how her poor Mammy must feel about her partying ways? It’s not as if Healy threw up on the pavement, dodged her taxi fare, or lamped a nightclub toilet attendent. She had a few drinks, tripped over her own feet, and looked less than graceful getting into a taxi. I doubt any manner of uncle would disown her for that … although it’s certainly an evocative image, Declan Nerney weeping into the Sunday newspapers whilst clutching his Nano Nagle action figures; “My kingdom for a shapeless tunic!”

Obviously, we have to advocate taking responsibility for one’s own actions, especially when one is nearly thirty, in good health, and financially independent. Ms. Healy chose to become a pop star, and so invited a certain amount of public attention down on her head. But that doesn’t mean that she must be held accountable for every angle she is snapped from. That doesn’t mean that she must remain poised and coiffed and boring and blank-eyed, for fear she may appear off balance or chunky and so frighten impressionable tweens. In fact, the notion Horan seems to push here – that female celebrities should restrict themselves to a particular hem length and a particular bedtime, that they must be graceful above all else, and that they must never lose control – is rather too sinister to chance adopting as standard. Young fans striving towards unattainable perfection and constantly berating themselves when they fall short? What a depressing thought.

Personally, I wouldn’t advocate Una Healy as a role model, but it’s because Una’s an entertainer, not a neurosurgeon. If my nine-year-old comes home and tells me she wants to be in a girl group when she grows up, I’ll probably roll my eyes and say something disparaging about the cost of fake eyelashes. That wouldn’t be half as disturbing as her coming home and claiming she wants a career as a dewy-eyed mannequin, Stepford-elegant with a silver ramrod up her jumper, though. Una Healy’s antics may well stop upsetting Niamh Horan when Niamh Horan accepts that Una Healy’s not an international ambassador. She’s a young, pretty popstar. Surely, then, she can wear her skirts as short as she damn well pleases?

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There never was a truer proverb than “ignorance is bliss”; certainly, the daily trawl through the news sites can take years off a life. It’s a topic I turn to constantly in late-night discussions – is knowledge an essential weapon, or a poisoned chalice? Are we better people for knowing the dank corners of a life gone awry, or is curiosity really the Achilles heel to an otherwise purring pussycat? Yes. Note that when I say “late-night”, I obviously mean so late the cows are heading out again, and when I say “discussion”,  I’m really referring to drunken flame wars with similarly battle-scarred snobs. Such is the pomposity of my posse.

Anyway, the point is that each day is made up of weighty and depressing events, so even the most analytical can be forgiven for turning to the gossip columns, the ents pages, the frothy stuff from time to time, just to take a load off. I do like to cast a narrowed eye over cavorting celebrities, now and then, even though I know it’s an empty pursuit, even though my time would be better spent giving myself an eyeball scraping or beading the guest bedroom curtains. Sometimes I enjoy an indulgent slither into stupidity. Sue me.

Which is why I know that this week there were much, much more depressing, crucial stories than Wayne Rooney’s cheating on wife Coleen with a blabbermouth call-girl. And yet this silly piece of celebrity goss really got to me. It dug its glossy little claws in and refused to let go. In truth, I care very little about what goes on in other people’s marriages; each couple has their own way of looking at their relationship and their place in the wider world, and all of the hand-wringing your claws can spin through won’t change that. What bothered me about this sorry tale was the details of the naughty succubus, a young woman called Jennifer Thompson, who went to the tabloids with the particulars of her business relationship with Rooney and, presumably, was paid well to spill the beans.

There’s no point rehashing the story again. The Daily Mail and The News Of The World and The Sun will tell you all you need to know. In summation, though, we have a spoilt young man with more money than he could possibly know what to do with, and a healthy, educated young woman with a supportive family, making absolute twats of themselves on a very public stage.

And I can see no advantage for either party here. In the past, girls n’ fellas who resorted to the kiss n’ tell got themselves a substantial cheque and a saucy two-page spread in the paper, which was as happy a boon as the fame-hungry but talentless could expect from temporarily relegating themselves to a mindless sex object in a fetching pair of kecks. In this instance, though, Jennifer Thompson has told the world that she’s not only a wannabe-WAG, but a prostitute, a revelation the majority of your peers will judge you for, whether or not they liked Billie Piper’s turn in Belle Du Jour. It’s like telling your neighbours you sell heroin, or get off on crushing porn (that’s “crushing” porn, not using your steely determination to bring down Hugh Hefner and all he stands for); people aren’t going to see it as one of your good points. And sure enough, the tabloids have now plundered Thompson’s Facebook page for her holiday snaps, photos of her and her mum, details of her friends, their photographs. She’s been painted as a desperate party-girl, happy to sell her body to fund her hedonistic lifestyle because she’s far too self-centred and lazy to get a real job. Thompson’s father has even made a public statement apologising to Coleen Rooney! Surely this could not have been what Thompson was after when she sold the story of her relationship with the famous footballer? Surely she didn’t expect and accept that she would be called a “£1,200-a-night vice girl”, that her beloved father would be headlined all over the country as “Hooker’s Dad, Hamish”. But if not … Jesus, what did she think would happen? The mind doesn’t just boggle, it separates, scrambles and serves itself up on toast.

It’s difficult to feel sorry for the girl; I’m not as altruistic as all that. I just cannot figure out how anyone would choose to put themselves through the gleeful condemnation of her country, and beyond, just for the price of a new car.

As for Rooney, it’s not so difficult to understand how he could have wedged himself into such a torrid little corner. He’s not going to be called a dirty slapper for engaging in threesomes with pretty prostitutes, and his fans care only for his prowess on the pitch. Having said that, he must be feeling the deep embarrassment he’s brought on his young wife, the mother of his baby son. So why, then, compromise his home life for the wannabe WAG, the party girl christened “Premier League Jenny” because of her taste in partners? What do these daft footballers think is going to happen when they cheat with fame-hungry hangers-on? I know they pay extra for it, but do they really expect discretion?

I’m no old crone, myself; I’m in my twenties too, so it’s not as if Thompson and Rooney’s generation is something wildly alien to me. Still, it depresses the stuffing out of me that we’ve become so celebrity-obsessed, so into the pursuit of fame, that we’ll trade it all for a night with a recommended call girl or a bone thrown from a tabloid newspaper.

Then, I am reading all of this crap from gossip websites, am I not? Oh, tis a vicious circle and no mistake, and not a clever one to loop into, after all.

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God, is there anything worse than a preachy celebrity putting the world to rights? Well, yeah, actually, and I’m pretty sure 13 year old Chadian kids being permanently disabled by being shot in the legs is one of them.

Our saviour!

Our saviour!

But I wouldn’t know about one particular Chadian child if George Clooney hadn’t met him recently. This piece in the New York Times briefly shows how effective the visits of celebs to war zones can be – as the writer points out, the only reason he’s writing this column (and we’re reading it) is because it’s partly about a visit to a refugee camp with Mr C.

Now, I do find it very irritating when some celebs get preachy. I find it insane that Angelina Jolie is invited to become a member of the hugely influential think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations with the likes of Alan Greenspan, Condoleezza Rice and well-known warmongerer Henry Kissinger, apparently purely on the basis that she’s hot, has travelled a bit, her six children were all born outside of America and she once won an Oscar for overacting in a crap film. And I find it particularly annoying that Bono lectures governments about how much aid they should be giving to the developing world when he (a very, very rich man, lest we forget, who we can assume wasn’t exactly panicking about paying his bills) went to elaborate lengths to avoid paying his taxes when the artists’ tax exemptions were changed. Where exactly does he think aid money comes from? The magic money rainbow? God?

But at the same time, isn’t it better when celebs try to use their powers for good (as they see fit – I’m not sure how “good” the Council of Foreign Relations can be with the likes of Greenspan and Kissinger on board)? Isn’t it better than just sitting back and smugly counting their money like an idiot? Surely if any of us became fabulously wealthy and famous, we’d at least try and do something for the causes we believe in? At least they care about something, in their often idiotic way, and in most cases the worst thing they do is annoy us. Some, like George Clooney, of them don’t even do that, most of the time (I’ll make an exception for that smug Oscar acceptance speech in which he praised his fellow stars for being so liberal). Ultimately, I think it’s always better for people to be politically engaged and informed rather than apathetic – whether they’re celebs or not. Although if it turns out in a few years that Angelina Jolie’s suggestions for US foreign policy are responsible for plunging the world into chaos, I reserve the right to change my mind…

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