The Nightingale and the Celebrity

I’ve been hooked by celebrity culture.

Served up in bite sized chunks on a daily basis by TMZ.

I have become a voyeur and not in a good way. In way that makes me feel dirty. Like the old man who used to sit opposite my school and flash us on the hockey field.

Strangely, it was the whole Kristen Stewart trampire thing that has finally made me twig. You can call it my rock bottom. My moment of clarity.

You see, I forgot they are people. Not some mythical race that inhabit another world or a parallel dimension. They aren’t the ones stealing my socks out of the washer.

They are real people. They may be rich and famous, but they feel just the same.

I thought they lived lives of unparalleled freedom. They can go anywhere, do anything, they’ve got money to burn. But they can’t, can they?

They can’t go anywhere without a team of paparazzi.

They can’t do anything without someone hitching their wagon with an opinion on how sad they look today, or how they’re having an affair with the homeless guy they stopped to greet.

Living your life on the public stage because you happen to have a gift as an actor or a musician or be blessed with otherworldly beauty cannot be easy.

And a cage no matter how gilded is still just a cage. And that’s we’ve put them. On display for our entertainment 24/7. It’s the reality TV version of the Nightingale story from 1001 Arabian Nights.

I value my privacy. So how can I deliberately invade someone else’s? And each time I read the gossip, I feed the mill.

I cannot imagine what is like not to able to pull my comfy jeans and an old t-shirt and slouch in my garden. Whatever they do, the whole world is looking on in avid, rabid hunger.

I love my anonymity. I love that I can disappear into the city and be a ghost. Or hang out at the pub and chat to my friends.

It is insane. Many years ago now, I went to see the Virgin Goddess in Nepal, the Kumari. Beautiful, exquisite even, and living in a prison made of gold. Every year she was wheeled out in a carriage so everyone could gawk at her. Until the poor thing began to menstruate and was thrown out on the street.

Lindsay Lohan, Britney, Kristen – they’re just little girls. And we want them to live up to what we think they should be. Forget parental pressure or peer pressure, they’ve got the pressure of the entire world. No bloody wonder Britney shaved her hair off.

Not to mention poor old Katherine, the royal broodmare. When my great-grandmother asked my father on his wedding day when he’d present her with a great grandchild, he tore a strip of her and refused to talk to his family for years. Try that when your mum-in-law’s the Queen.

As for Kristen. She made a mistake. A stupid one. She’s incredibly young. Did we all expect her and Robert to live happily ever after and raise beautiful vampire babies? Cut her some slack. Anyway. twenty bucks says you’ve done something stupid you wouldn’t want to see the front page.

She’s not a devil, she’s just a normal girl. She screwed up, she broke her heart and her boyfriend’s. Her married older lover seems to bear no responsibility in this mess, because we’d all rather vilify the teenager rather than an adult who should’ve known better.

It’s not our place to beat her up, just because millions of women believe all that Rob needs is them to ease his aching heart. Get a life. You’ve got a better chance of being abducted by aliens and having an anal probe.

We revel in seeing celebs on the beach showing the cellulite, or the terrible “no make-up” shots. I think they are supposed to make us feel better, but in fact they don’t. Part of Marilyn’s mystique was that the press played it up. She was the siren. Nowadays there is no mystery, just scripted reality TV about the lives of tramps.

It’s not journalism, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the vivisection of creativity.

So, this my apology to all the celebs whose lives I have digested in minute and horrifying detail. I have no idea how much of it was true. In fact, to be honest, I probably didn’t care.

I’ll still buy your music and watch your movies, but I won’t be some virtual stalker glorifying in vicariously sharing in your most private and personal moments.

I’m going gossip cold turkey.

May the force be with me.

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