There is one particular area of life we are allowed – encouraged even, to judge. It’s the gladiator’s coliseum of the modern day: the world of celebrity.
Our trolling and booing and heartfelt online rants (she’s too skinny she’s definitely had plastic surgery what kind of role model is this for young people) feed the glitterati, it keeps them all in Botox and Chihuahuas and garish home interiors.
I’d love to say I’m above all that materialistic crap, but I’m so not. I’m wading in it, waist deep, practically doing a languid breaststroke. I look at the ShowBiz section of the Mail Online every day. I’ve downloaded an app. I could dress this habit up in intellectualism by saying I read it detachedly, as a sort of study of pop culture, but that would be straight out bollocks. I love this sort of cattish journalism – especially when there’re spelling mistakes I can point out.
My daily absorption of celebrity gossip has enabled me to decide, somewhat arbitrarily, who I like and don’t like in that glamorous ‘other world’. For some reason I really like Kara Delevigne (that British supermodel with bushy eyebrows) and really don’t like Cheryl Cole (that Girls Aloud singer who has a new surname that’s a bit pretentious and hard to pronounce). But why? I’ve never met either of these women and barely know anything about them aside from the two tidbits I’ve just bracketed.
Other celebrities I like, for reasons I’ve yet to consciously formulate, include Taylor Swift, Kendal Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Katie Price, Jennifer Aniston and Ellie Goulding.
No reason, I know very little about any of them.
Other celebrities I don’t like include Miranda Kerr, Katie Perry, Mel B, most of The Saturdays, Rita Ora and Selena Gomez.
Again, none of these women have done anything specific to make me doubt their value as humans. I just don’t like them.
Celebrities are fascinating. We purport them to be special with our fascination, whether it be for their talent (or lack of), their figure, their fashion, or just something about them. I wonder what it is about them that puts pound signs in the media’s collective eye.
Fame is contagious too. When we meet famous people, we feel like the thing that makes them special is rubbing off on us, connecting us to the world in ways we’ve never really experienced before. Usually we’re all pretty inconspicuous in the grand scheme of things. Just one of many. When we engage with someone so universally recognisable, we feel a bit more real somehow.
I have my own claim to fame. When I was 14 I was ambushed by Brian Dowling (Big Brother winner and now presenter) and a film crew on Brighton Seafront. They wanted me to take part in a TV pilot called ‘Chain Gang’. I had to answer a trivia question and be handcuffed to a line of people. We then had to ambush other unsuspecting walkers until we’d found enough people to reach the final, where we then had to all confer to answer a maths question to win £30. We all won, got the money, signed a disclaimer saying we were over 18 (I was tall for my age) and went home. The programme never made it past the pilot stage (obviously, it was shit), but it was still exciting for me to be filmed, to be a part of something. There is a rush that comes with recognition, of having that lens pointed at you, saying ‘you’re significant enough to be captured’.
This might be why we love social media so much. On Facebook, we’re all celebrities. Even people who don’t know you that well might have a quick browse through your holiday album just for pure curiosity. We like to know how other people live their lives. We like to know that other people have similar experiences, we like to look up to people, we like to look down on people. It’s in our nature. We’re a hugely hierarchical, insecure bunch of monkeys really aren’t we.