The effect of Celebrity Schadenfreude on having a life …

A long time ago someone pointed out the amount of times ‘I’ and ‘me’ appeared in something I had written. In the nicest possible way, they proceeded to inform me the world was NOT all about me – and that I should probably get over myself. Well, charming. What, I pondered, could possibly be more important than moi? What could be more delicious than wallowing in my own perceived ills or doing some self-indulgent navel gazing?  In those days, not a lot. But now, for our edification and wonderment, we have Advanced Celebrity Schadenfreude 101.

It is now possible to gaze at the navels of others and watch them self-destruct. The media licks its lips in glee as the Britneys, Lindsays and Parises (Parisi? Parasites?) hurl themselves, sans knickers, from cars and vomit into other people’s designer handbags.  They also, with gay abandon, hurl themselves in and out of other people’s beds and in and out of rehab centres. The trash magazines have a field day. If it’s a slow news week for celebrity misadventure, they make something up. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so appallingly sad.

For a start, I have no idea who is buying this stuff. It’s not even good fiction. I can’t believe there are people out there going ‘tut tut’ because some actress had a baby last week and is actually still … dare we say it … FAT. Or that a flabby woman in Dubbo, attired in grubby pink towelling trackie dacks, has the gall to shake her head because a soapie starlet dared to shop for Rice Bubbles at her local Food-o-rama with bed-hair and no bra. And wearing thongs. What is with the grannies knitting booties for celebrity offspring, when surely they’re aware it will all be donated to charity? Why are we caring what these vacuous nobodies (that would be the celebrities, not the grannies) get up to? Do we not have lives of our own? Maybe we like to be reminded we’re all human, and therefore equally flawed. If a rock star trashes an hotel room and urinates in the elevator on his way out to ravish a pack of 14-year-old groupies … well, surely that’s not so different to Uncle Bazza staggering down his weed-choked driveway with his sneakers covered in regurgitated kabab and his willy hanging out after a night on the turps? All the same under the skin, right?

Why do we want to see where these people are living, what they’re driving, where they’re going for holidays? It matters not a hoot. But somehow, the great unwashed delight in the spectator sport of Other People’s Lives. For some reason, the wealthier and more successful someone becomes, the more they are hated and reviled. The more the public wants to see them fall. A long way, if possible – into a prison cell or straitjacket, even better. Why are we not happy for someone who’s ‘made it’? Why do we not clap our hands and shout ‘Goodo!’ as the rich get richer and we can’t be arsed moving ourselves into better lives and circumstances?

Even seeing the covers of trash mags screaming out from the rack next to the checkout counter makes me wonder whether the authors of such garbage can sleep at nights. How can paps with telephoto lenses feel pleased with themselves as they cling to the sides of buildings in order to grab blurred images of sports stars chowing down on greedyburgers and knocking back alcoholic beverages in the privacy of their own apartments? There seems to be a whole industry out there, hell-bent on poking its snoz into the personal lives of others and taking a swipe at them. Even current affairs presenters foam at the mouth with delight as yet another public figure cheats on its spouse or shoplifts a Mars Bar.

Imagine for a moment how it would feel to be similarly targeted – unable to leave the house for fear of appearing on next week’s cover of ‘Sucked In’ with grubby toenails and a nipple poking out? Surely, if you’re a performer, the general public only has the right to criticise your performance if they’ve actually paid for tickets to see it? Would it be worth giving up rights to having a life?

But hark! There’s a rustle in the hedgerow once again, and it looks like I’m confined to the house for the day. Looks like the world IS all about me after all – and everybody else wants a piece of it …

.oOo.

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