“A sign of celebrity is that his name is often worth more than his services”.
(Daniel J. Boorstin)

FOR anyone who follows me on twitter you’ll know that I often take the piss out of Celebs…

PIERCE MORGAN’S AGENT: Piercy, you’ve been offered a…
PIERCE MORGAN: Stop right there Sue! Does my dressing room come equipped with a big chocolate ME I can suck on?

…For Example.

However, this has always been done with my tongue in my cheek, for if experience has taught me anything, it is to take people as you find them, because one day that person may turn out to be your boss!

However…last Tuesday, enough became enough.

'Reality stars'. Really.

'Reality stars'. Really.

Like most tweeters I had noticed @joey7barton was having an online spat with the cast of THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX (if cast is what you’d call it?). I couldn’t help notice that these ‘Reality Stars’ had more twitter followers than those of some
Hollywood legends, even rock stars, football players…Kenny Dalglish himself! In other words, they had more fans than people with ‘Talent’, even ‘Genius’.

Now I know it’s partly because they hawk fame, seek it, unlike those who are famous as a consequence of talent. I also know that to millions of teenagers, twitter is nothing more than a massive ‘youth club’. You’ve only got to look at the trending section during weekends and school holidays when it resembles a girl-scout sleepover. Justin Beiber this, JLS that, Jonas Brothers are my ENTIRE World. Blah, Blah, Blah…

So, we can safely assume that these reality ‘stars’ have lots of ‘younger’ fans. But this doesn’t help ease my concerns. In fact, it only served to exacerbate them.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently”.
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

The Joey Barton v TOWIE showdown came to my attention on the very same day that ITV announced it’s next star studded line up for “I’m not a celebrity get me in there!” Sorry, of course I mean I’M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE! As if this wasn’t enough, images began to surface online that very day of the Desperate Cast Of Scousewives. (Sorry I’ve done it again), I mean ‘The Cast Of DESPERATE SCOUSEWIVES’. This, combined with channel 5’s perpetual loop of BIG BROTHER and the Frankie Cock-oozer X-FACTOR fiasco, not to mention ex-football managers ex-girlfriends dancing the Tango. Well, simply put…I flipped!

The American Comedian Fred Allen, an old vaudeville, Broadway and radio star from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, often censored for his views, once said the following…

“A celebrity is a person who works hard all of their life to become well known, and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized”.

This would be funny if it were true. Of course many celebrities these days DO wear dark glasses, but how many do you know worked hard all of their life?

Fred existed during the golden age of Show business, when artists, singers, actors and comedians traveled from theatre to social club to run down bar and village fête just to earn their stripes as a pro. It’s little wonder then, that this quote now seems so out of date.

Cowell

Cowell before he discovered the t-shirt

You can’t blame the wannabes of course (well you can if you wish). Andy Warhol said we’d ALL have 15 minutes of fame. Fame brings a curiosity to most of us no doubt. I don’t really have an issue with people wanting to be famous; I have an issue with the ‘Fame Makers’ themselves. The Media/Music moguls of this World who have saturated television and written press with an artificial place that millions want to go to, but only few can enter and then only at their rules. I have an issue with 9year-old girls (who should be at school) crying live on stage in front of millions because they think their world has ended. I have an issue with morbidly obese kids being dressed up like a camp Christmas pudding for the amusement of a nation. I have an issue with people with learning difficulties and delusions of grandeur being paraded for our weekend entertainment. I have an issue with fat cat multi millionaires literally turning the practice of ‘Schadenfreude’ (pleasure derived from a misfortune of others) into a television format, purely to expand their off-shore accounts.

“I’d rather take 1% of 100 peoples efforts than 100% of my own”.
(John D. Rockefeller)

Right now, there are people in Liverpool who are promising a bunch of ladies instant fame and fortune. These ladies names will adorn special guest lists in the city, probably for the next 5 years. They’ll be making their presence known in the V.I.P. booths of the News Bar, the executive boxes at Aintree and the opening of a Liverpool envelope; and all they have to do to gain such privilege, is be exploited on a show called DESPERATE SCOUSEWIVES. Yes, you heard correctly, ‘Desperate’. You’d think the title alone might reveal what’s really thought of them.

'Desperate' 'cast'

'Desperate' 'cast' members

I’m willing to bet that these ‘fame makers’ have carefully selected the girls with the strongest accents, deepest fake tans and lowest academic achievements. (I might be wrong and sincerely hope I am), but now all these girls need do, is paint a great and proud city in two dimensional shocking pink and in the process tar all Liverpudlians with the same mascara brush and all their dreams will come true. It doesn’t matter that the City Of Liverpool has worked hard for the past three decades to cancel out prejudice, bigotry, detriment and narrow mindedness, just so long as these ‘Fame Makers’ can make a few quid they’ll drag it back down into the damming opinions of yesteryear.

“Celebrity is death – celebrity – that’s the worst thing that can happen to an actor”.
(Glenn Close)

My reasons for concern are also personal of course. I am an actor after all. I’m in the business of drama. To pay my mortgage I perform in Films and Television shows and occasionally on the stage. In order to protect myself from times of unemployment, I also WRITE for actors too. My job as an actor is to live truthfully under the given ‘imaginary’ circumstances provided by the writer. My job as a writer is to provide such ‘imaginary’ circumstances. So when a NON-scripted, NON-acted, reality television show comes along, without any ‘imaginary’ circumstances whatsoever, my very livelihood is threatened.

It could be forgiven, even tolerated if it was just a Television ‘Show’…but it’s gone way beyond that now. This is an entire new ‘format’.

“Oh…typical actor having a moan” I hear some say. “It’s only one or two shows, there’s room for everything!” some cry.

Well allow me to list just a ‘couple’…

Big Brother – Fame Academy – Dating In The Dark – Britain’s Got Talent – Shipwrecked – Love Island – The Apprentice – Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model – Hell’s Kitchen – Pop Idol – Pop Stars – Coach Trip – Pineapple Dance Studios – Castaway – The Farm – Farmer Wants A Wife – Signed By Katie Price – The Only Way Is Essex – Made In Chelsea – My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – Geordie Shore – Make Me A Supermodel – The Living Soap – Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend – The Match – Wife Swap – Fake It – Plain Jayne – Ladette To Lady – Club Reps – Ibiza Uncovered – Beauty And The Geek – Dance X – So You Think You Can Dance – Airport – Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire – The Bachelor – The Bachelorette – Temptation Island – Extreme Dating – Joe Millionaire – Date My Mom – Fit Club – The Biggest Loser – Rich Girls – The Surreal Life – Model Behavior – Last Comic Standing – Search For A Superstar – Project Runway – Hit Me Baby One More Time – Strictly Dance Fever – The Voice – Don’t Stop Believing – Who Wants To Marry My Dad? – Four Weddings…

Blah, Blah, Blah…

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t believe me, visit this WIKI page…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reality_television_programs

“The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness”.
(Daniel J. Boorstin)

So, you’ve appeared on one the above ‘Reality’ shows and suddenly, overnight you’re a ‘Star’, but here’s the thing…you’re not ‘actually’ any good at anything! You are (as DJ Boorstin said) well known just for being well known. What do you do? You can’t act, you can’t sing. How do you remain in the public eye?…The answer is simple; you appear on a ‘Celebrity’ reality show of course!

Here’s just ‘one or two’ of those…

Celebrity Big Brother – Dancing On Ice –– Celebrity Love Island – I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – Celebrity Cash In The Attack – Celebrity Antiques Road show – Celebrity Apprentice – Celebrity Coach Trip – Celebrity Come Dine With Me – Pop Star To Opera Star – Celebrity Extreme Detox – Celebrity Fit Club – Celebrity Wife Swap – Celebrity Five Go To… -Chantelle’s Dream Dates – Dancing With The Stars – Strictly Come Dancing – Celebrity Masterchef -Britain’s Worst Celebrity Drivers – Skating With Celebrities – Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes – Soapstar Superstar – Katie And Peter – Katie (What I Did Next) – Pete’s PA – Peter Andre (Going It Alone) – Peter Andre (The Next Chapter) – Celebrity Four Wedding…

Blah, Blah, Blah…

I’m not saying for one moment that only reality stars appear on such shows, because that is not the case. But you know what I mean!

They’re even praying on the children now…

Junior Apprentice – Junior Master Baker – Junior Masterchef – Junior Mastermind…

A school teacher told me recently, that when she asked her young class what they wanted to be when they left school, not one single boy or girl replied ‘Fireman’ or ‘Doctor’, ‘Archeologist’ or even ‘Astronaut’. All they wanted in their young lives was to be ‘Famous’…end of! As if ‘Famous’ was a job title.

Of the dramas that ‘have’ managed to find a precious schedule slot amongst all of the dross, it’s of little coincidence that the most watched of them all is a drama called “GLEE”. A show set in a ‘Fame’ School, that centres around kids hunger and thirst for recognition.

“Youth itself is a talent, a perishable talent”.
(Eric Hoffer)

Then we have the ‘already’ rich and famous, and some might even argue ‘Talented’, who not content with earning Millions from Royalties (or Daddy’s trust fund), feel the need to have a camera crew watch them take a shit. After all, what’s the point of being rich if you’re not famous? What is the point of being worth a Billion Dollars if people don’t know who you are?…Hey Tamara Ecclestone!?

Shows such as…

The Simple Life – The Surreal Life – The Osbournes – The Hasslehoffs – Tamara Ecclestone Billion $$ Girl – Hogan Knows Best – Nick And Jessica – Tommy Lee Goes To College – Newlyweds – Keeping Up With The Kardashians…

Blah, Blah, Blah…

Judging by this quote, it’s all some Brummies fault?!…

“I want it to be remembered that Ozzy was the first celebrity who was brave enough to open up his private life to the public. He was the first”.
(Sharon Osbourne)

Yeah, THANKS OZZY…thanks a bunch!

Even West End impresarios have now jumped on the Band Wagon. Cleverly cashing inon the World’s Obsession with finding fame by televising their very audition process’sfor established West End Shows.

Any Dream Will Do – How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? – Over The Rainbow – Grease Is The Word – I’ll Do Anything … (Yeah I bet you would Love!)

Not only do they find their star performer, but (as in the case of Over The Rainbow) sell £5m worth of advance tickets into the bargain. Well you ‘would’ wouldn’t you!

“Celebrity distorts democracy by giving the rich, beautiful, and famous more authority than they deserve”.
(Maureen Dowd)

And here’s another thing…

Grafton-esque

Grafton-esque

Can somebody please tell me ‘why’ an underpaid NHS nurse, sat in the hot seat trying to make all her family’s dreams come true by winning a fortune on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” is any LESS watchable than seeing an already rich and jumped up Celeb trying to help his or her favourite charity whilst all the while plugging their new book or brand? Don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice that these Celebs give to charity, (some give an awful lot and some might argue its all Celebrity is good for), but must there be such give and take? We know you’re helping yourself in the process. If you want to help a charity, do it behind closed doors. Don’t take a film crew to The Sudan because you have a Christmas DVD.

And it’s not just ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. They’ve ruined all of the old great Quiz Shows. What the f*ck was wrong with Family Fortunes? Why do we need the word ‘Celebrity’ in front of it? I’d much rather see the Patels from Leeds play the Smiths from Hull than Edwina Curry’s brood take on Anne Widdecombe’s clan.

Celebrity Mr and Mrs – Celebrity Egg Heads – Celebrity Weakest Link – Celebrity Mastermind – Celebrity Wipeout –

Blah, Blah, Blah…

What is WRONG with ordinary people? Are they THAT boring? Not worthy of exposure? Do they smell?

Sir Jimmy Saville died last week (god bless his soul), could you imagine what his flagship show would be like nowadays?…

“CELEBRITY JIM’LL FIX IT”

DEAR JIM, could you please fix it for me to spend June on a super yacht off the coast
of St Tropez in the company of Megan Fox, Scarlet Johansson and Angelina
Jolie…yours creepily Calum Best. (PS: That’s C.a.l.u.m. You might know me as
George’s Lad.)

“Celebrity damages private life”.
(Tim Berners-Lee)

And then of course, if you’re going to have all of these hundreds of shows, then they’re going to need a platform on which to be discussed?! Lets call them… “Magazine Shows”.

You know the type. Shows that are basically a cheap tabloid newspaper brought to us in Tele-Visual form. The type of shows where journalists from these said cheap tabloid newspapers get to practice what they preach, become what they write about…in other words, make themselves (yes you guessed it) ‘Celebrities’. I won’t name names but you know the people I mean, they sit on bright pastel coloured sofa’s and chew the fat about…

“Who’s fu*king who?”
“Who’s bullying who in the X-Factor House”
“Who has a secret drug addiction”
“Who has a secret love child”
“Who’s in the closet”
“Who’s got who’s name tattooed on their arse”

Blah, Blah, Blah…

When surely the question should be, “Who really GIVES a flying f*ck?!”

These outlets do nothing but fan flames. Make us feel abnormal for ‘not’ watching such shit. And it’s always the same names they talk about with gusto, as if they we’re as interesting as Einstein.

Names like…

Lembit Opik – The Cheeky Girls – Tara Palmer-Tomkinson – Neil and Christine Hamilton – Joe Pasquale – Janet Street Porter – David Van Day – Kim Woodburn – Timmy Mallet – Gillian McKeith – Edwina Curry – Anne Widdecombe – Christopher Biggins -Dean Gaffney – Melinda Messenger – Tamara Beckwith – Sophie Anderton – Jennie Bond – Darren Day – Wayne Sleep – Jordan – Peter Andre – Calum Best – Sinita – Nancy Del O’lio – Ulrika Johnson – Jason Donovan – Uri Geller – Louis Spence and Kerry f*cking Katona…

I mean really?! Are our lives lacking THAT much that we have to substitute what we don’t have by following the every move of those that do?…And if so, do ‘these’ people have what we don’t? Are we THAT bored with life? Open the fridge and stare at a yoghurt, that’s got more life in it!

“And I think that if I were a for real celebrity that was recognizable everywhere, I’d just crawl under a rock and you know, have someone run over the rock with a car, or something”.
 (Steve Burns)

Then of course we have our World-renowned RED TOP press. During the six months that the X-Factor dominates British Weekend television (five months too much) hardly a single day goes by when the front page’s of ‘The Star’, ‘The S*n’ or even ‘The Daily Mirror’ aren’t adorned with X-Factor gossip…

“Misha Bullied This”
“Frankie Snorted That”
“Tulisa fought with Her…”
“Simon’s mad at Him…”
“Louis’ dyed his hair…”

Blah, Blah, Blah…

And the Sundays might even run a 6 page spread.

WHY?

Because it sells papers; because (scarily) this is what the people want! People tune in to this shit in their millions. Britain’s biggest selling paper is The S*n for f*ck’s sake. The gossip magazines that form a guard of honour at the checkout queues are full of titillation…

Bella – Heat – Red – Glamour – Ok – Gratzia – Closer – Star – Look – More – Zest

Blah, Blah, Blah…

“I’m kind of ashamed to be a celebrity. I don’t understand wanting to read about other people’s dirty laundry. I think celebrity is the biggest red herring society has ever pulled on itself”. 
(Jude Law)

Some magazines sign up exclusivity deals with these ‘Stars’. It seems there isn’t a single copy of OK Magazine that doesn’t feature Katie Price (or Jordan, depending on what personality gets out of bed). It makes you wonder why they don’t just call it ‘Katie’, sell more copies off the back of her struggles with her children’s disabilities or her inability to provide them with a father figure.

ITV2's offerings

Some of ITV2's offerings

Even years after some Celeb’s have died, these magazines will still exploit their names. I’m thinking of the recent (and shocking) headline:

Psychic Sally, “My conversation with Jade Goody from the other side”.

And don’t even get me started on Sally Morgan and her employers, exploiting the mourning and the vulnerable for cash. It seems this fraud, alongside the Andre’s, Katona’s and Price’s of this World have monopolized entire TV channels, Living TV – ITV2 etc etc

And talking of Jordan and Katona…That reminds me, why is the Porn industry packed to the rafters with young and desperate girls? They travel to California by the thousands, some barely legal, from all around the Globe. Is it for the money? Is it ‘really’ for the sex?…Or is it for the ‘Fame’? You decide!

“Everyone wants immediate success, immediate celebrity, and that doesn’t produce what used to be artists”.
(Colin R. Davis)

Open up these magazines, watch these TV channels, click on these porn sites and it’s fodder don’t even look real anymore. They’ve all been air brushed, filled their faces with botulism, fillers and collagen. The result of which?…Teenage girls want fake breasts for their eighteenth birthday presents, twenty something’s queue up for facial surgery to make them look (wait for it) ‘younger’, the irony being of course that botox and scalpels makes them stand out like a cobblers thumb. (There is nothing makes a woman look older, than her obvious attempt to look younger).

And it isn’t just the girls. Some might say the guys are even worse. On Celebrity Big Brother this year we even had a 50 something man with artificial abdominal muscles implanted over his beer belly? And why? Because his £100m fortune just wasn’t enough.

And then of course there’s the good old WAG. Professional footballers, (some with faces like a bag of rusty spanners) sit in VIP booths in city hotspots and watch as the young girls queue up. But what is it these ladies want? Is it the money? Is it because they think these fine young upstanding men will make perfect life partners and fathers to their kids?…Or is it for the ‘Fame’?…VOTE NOW!

“The postman wants an autograph. The cab driver wants a picture. The waitress wants a handshake. Everyone wants a piece of you”.
(John Lennon)

My idol John Lennon was assassinated because a kid wanted fame. The world was rid of a musical genius because an unknown wanted to be known.

I fear for the future if this obsession with fame and perfection persists. It is not a coincidence that Waterstones Book shops were left unraided during this years riots, whilst magazine racks, video game stores, bling, gadget and sportswear shops where stripped as if by locusts. Even whilst doing this, these bored kids ‘filmed’ themselves on camera phones, uploaded themselves to You tube, blue toothed their antics to social network sites. Despite wearing hoods, they ‘still’ hankered after fame.

I’m going to leave you with some written words by BANKSY.

Banksy is an Oscar nominated film maker and World renowned artist, whose works have sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Despite this, Banksy is probably most ‘famous’ for one thing in particular…his anonymity. Should he choose to, Banksy could reveal himself and become the next Damien Hurst. He could get stopped on every corner, invited to every Red Carpet, never pay for anything. He could get the best seat in the best Restaurant without a reservation. If he so chose, he could even sign cheques for £10,000 and never see them cashed, such would be the value of his signature. But Banksy ‘refuses’ to do this, why?…Because he is an artist first and a ‘reluctant’ celebrity only as a result, a consequence if you will, of what he brings.

For me, Banksy summed it all up when he wrote the following…

“The time of getting fame for your name on it’s own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to make you famous, will never make you famous. Fame is a by-product of doing something else. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.”

@scotwilliams

BACKBEAT – Q&A

THERE IS a special screening of ‘Backbeat’ tomorrow night (Monday 14th) at FACT in Liverpool with a Q&A session featuring Scot Williams afterwards.

The film, starring Stephen Dorff and Ian Hart as well as Scot, tells the story of the early days of the Beatles, the Hamburg days, and their struggles ahead of their ultimate fame. The close friendship between John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles’ original bassist, begins to suffer due to the pressures the band were under and also because of the development of Sutcliffe’s love for a German art student.

The screening is at 6:45pm in FACT, in Liverpool’s Ropewalks, and proceeds will be going to the Clapperboard charity.

Details here: BACKBEAT screening with Q&A from Scot Williams at FACT.

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