The lucrative art of doing nothing

Jules Renard once said: “Fame is a constant effort.” Although, I’m fairly certain that if he’d glimpsed a future in which one-dimensional idiots could become famous at the drop of a hat, and that those one-dimensional idiots would be able to hold onto their fame by essentially doing nothing, he probably would’ve publicly retracted that quote. Because the truth is: we now live in an age when seemingly everything is newsworthy, so fame actually takes no effort whatsoever.

Only the other day, the Daily Mail reported that Amy Childs (from ITV2’s The Only Way Is Essex, for the uninitiated among you) was “mobbed” by schoolgirl fans as she exited a hair salon. In reality (actual reality, not the reality created by the oxygen-starved brains of Daily Mail journalists) the pitiful ‘mob’ consisted of three schoolgirls politely chatting to Amy on the street. In fact, there was probably only one schoolgirl and the other two were Photoshopped in to create a scene of total chaos.

The Mail’s coverage of this astounding non-news event also managed to achieve yet another journalism low, with the sentence: “Amy had just finished getting her mahogany locks blow dried at the salon, where she was spotted drinking a Vimto soft drink.”

If the Daily Mail had written: “Amy was spotted being powered down, disassembled and packed away in a box by a friend,” that might have been halfway interesting. But instead, the best they could muster was the earth-shattering ‘news’ that a Katie Price action figure, with fewer school-age fans than Doreen Rodwell, the North-East’s most popular lollypop lady, had drunk a carbonated soft drink.

Of course, the tragedy of the age in which we live is that if Amy Childs then went out armed with a Shewee and proceeded to piss Vimto up a cash machine, she’d probably receive even more undeserved column inches.

(The Only Way Is Essex is starting to sound less and less like a programme title and more like a damning verdict on humanity, delivered by a bellowing God-like figure sitting on a cloud. “You had the chance to do great things, my children. But now, I’m afraid, the only way is…Essex.”)

What is it about these ‘celebrity’ nonentities doing nothing even remotely interesting that intrigues people so?

In Star magazine last week, a photographer had obviously instructed Alex Reid to contort his face into an expression of embittered seriousness. However, the resulting photo looked like it belonged in a local newspaper article about a man who’d been found wandering on a beach in his underpants, repeatedly muttering half a phone number to himself.

The photo accompanied a short article, with the headline: “ALEX: Jordan drove me to suicide,” which was a quote that left me momentarily confused. After all, I’d heard absolutely nothing of his suicide bid. Had Alex smuggled one of Katie Price’s lethal acrylic nails out of her Surrey mansion and desperately hacked at his wrists? Or maybe he’d tried to explode his own brain by attempting a junior Sudoku puzzle? I simply couldn’t wait to read more!

But of course, there was no story whatsoever. Because in the first five lines of the article you learned that Reid merely “considered suicide” after Jordan dumped him (which is still somewhat unbelievable). Even by the laughably awful standards of ‘celebrity’ magazines, it was a complete non-story: here’s news about something that didn’t happen, with a headline quote that isn’t technically true.

Alex Reid considering suicide has the same news value as a story about Alex Reid considering whether or not to have a second Müller Crunch Corner straight after the first.

But enough about Alex and his demons. What’s his ex-wife up to these days?

Well, Katie Price’s latest ‘relationship’ is with an Argentinean model called Leandro Penna. Given that he can’t speak a word of English and she can’t speak Spanish, it sounds like their eyes met across a bleak, minimalist conference room at Price’s PR firm. Still, love knows no bounds, so they’ve been communicating through her iPhone translation app.

Never was this more apparent than when she recently posted a message on Twitter in both Spanish and English, saying: “Leandro Penna is very transparent and mature. It has a fantastic family and everything together. I’ll soon know.”

If that tweet is anything to go by, before long every ‘celebrity’ magazine in the country is going to read like a compendium of Radio Londres coded messages. In an exclusive interview with New! magazine, Katie Price said: “Leandro sits by the fire. The teapot is melting! We are loving together soon.”

Yet again, there are rumours that Price’s latest relationship is yet another lucrative business arrangement, with the future break-up already planned. Which prompts the question: why are the newspapers still covering this meaningless, fake bullshit? And why do so many people still pay to read about it, and tune in to watch? Isn’t there enough real news and drama in the world?

Katie Price recently told a showbiz reporter from The Sun that she was currently taking helicopter lessons and planning to have a helipad installed at her mansion. With a nod to her constant pursuit by the paparazzi, she said: “People might think it’s extravagant but I’d like to see people following me in the air.”

I have to admit, I’d like to see that too. But only if her pursuers are flying F-22 Raptors. Let’s face it, this ‘celebrity’ nightmare has to end somehow.



Filed under Celebrity Culture, Newspapers, Rant

15 responses to “The lucrative art of doing nothing

  1. I’m really proud that I can say I’ve never seen The Only Way Is Essex. I’m also relieved about that because it sounds even worse than I ever imagined it to be.

    Your ‘Reveal’ magazine-reading makes sense now!

    Brilliantly written, as usual. 🙂

    • andytoots

      Thank you!

      I have to confess to watching ten minutes of the first episode of TOWIE. But I turned over fairly quickly when significant parts of my brain started to die.

  2. Fabulous piece. The cult of the airhead is one of the great mysteries of the modern age as far as I’m concerned.

    • andytoots


      You’re absolutely right, it is indeed one of the great mysteries of the modern age. And it’s a mystery I’ve become somewhat obsessed with. I need answers! Why does any of it matter?! Why?

  3. Klare Tootell

    I’m pleased to say that I’ve never watched a second of ‘The Only Way is Essex’ either and have no idea why the so-called ‘stars’ of it seem to be smeared across the newspapers every day.

    Re: Over-exaggeration in newspapers, I had to laugh today at the Sun’s headline of ‘Lady Gaga’s shock fall from flaming piano’. I’ll admit that I eagerly clicked on the article with the slightly morbid motivation of seeing some video footage of Lady Gaga engulfed in flames tumbling horrifically from the piano. As it was, she had a minor fall that didn’t even compare to my 2yr old falling off a 5ft slide yesterday and she was nowhere near the tiny row of carefully controlled flames on top of the piano. Still, the article said that “fans watched in horror as she PLUNGED to the ground”. Why can’t they just report things realistically without trying to ham it up all the time?!

    The other week I read an article entitled ‘Polter-Guest’….a mildly toned piece about a few paranormal happenings in a house. The next day, the exact same article had been re-titled “Poltergeist Killed My Dog!”…..but it….hadn’t….

    Clearly, making up the news out of bits of fluff and nothing seems more popular these days than reporting on things that actually matter. Pants isn’t it?

    • andytoots

      I hadn’t heard about the Lady Gaga story, so I Googled it after reading your comment. The top result made me laugh.

      Lady Gaga may well be one of the biggest stars in the world today, but she’s got nothing on Anthea Turner for pyrotechnic accidents.

  4. Sam

    *climbs up onto high horse*

    It’s one of the great sadnesses of our time (I believe) that mediocrity is something people aspire to these days. Time was that if you had nothing to offer the world except vapidity and big tits, you’d keep yourself to yourself. Now it seems everyone has to know about just how utterly stupid you are. The fact that little girls aspire to nothing more than the X Factor or to marry a footballer honestly makes me want to weep.

    I have no idea what the answer might be, but my list of reasons to stay living in this country grows shorter minute by minute.

    Fantastically written though, Andy!

    • andytoots

      I completely agree with everything you say! This is quite an interesting article about kids wanting to be famous (from a few years ago).

      By the way, I think Vapidity and Big Tits is the working title of Katie Price’s next novel. ;o)

  5. I dunno. I poke you with my virtual pointy poking finger and say “Mr Toots, please write a new post, I am in need of mirth” and no new posts are forthcoming. The moment I go to Romania to do Climbing Down A Hole, you go and write a new bloody post while my virtual back is virtually turned! Can’t sodding win!!!

    I am proud to say I don’t know who any of these people are except for Alex Reid because I did once download a picture of his naked behind to set as the screensaver on a friend’s unguarded (and oddly now in Hungarian) phone. I admit, I only knew of this picture because it was already the desktop background on my PC but that’s by the bypass.

    To give Katie Price one thing by way of credit – she is a very good business woman, even if she has sacrificed herself at the altar of taste (cf. wedding dress) and decency (cf. video I saw on my mate’s phone of her taking it up the wrongun) in order to make a few quid. Hat off to her really – if she’s willing to do that then good for her – 10 years time there won’t be a shred of a human being left though and the cameras will soon find someone new to look at then where will she be? The Norma Desmond of the 21st Century? Who knows? Moreover – who cares?!

    Being on any of these “reality” (whose reality?! Is Big Brother anything like real life?!?) shows makes you into a national laughingstock. Most people seem to be aware of that…and yet why do thousands of people audition every year to go and “sing” an awful cover-version of something for 30 seconds before getting old by Sharon Osbourne that it was shite? A couple of them do get lucky, it’s true, and get an album out of it but you rarely hear of them again.

    “In my day” we used to have good reality shows like New Faces and Opportunity Knocks and the people who were on them did get careers out of it but very often, they’d already been working in the industry for years or had a degree in music or drama or whatever. Thesedays, the kids seem to think they can get instant fame with an untrained voice – what this boils down to is “I want lots of money without having to make any effort myself” and that, unfortunately, is what is wrong with this country in so many ways. There is no ambition anymore – not what I’d call ambition anyway – “in my day” (Christ I’m turning into someone off Grumpy Old Men) “ambition” was about wanting to do things like “be a scientist” or “be a doctor” or “be a fireman” or “be a carpenter” – it was either about going to university of about learning a trade. Thesedays, everyone seems to go to university (and get a degree) without needing anywhere near the grades they needed 10 or 20 years ago and learning a trade apparently not sexy enough for them.

    So, sod having a good, stable career or making a real difference to the world or your community or doing something really exciting like going to the moon… just sell a few CDs and flash your tits on the cover of “Nuts” and that’ll do it seems, nowadays. I wonder if the careers service prints a leaflet thesedays entitled “How to get taken on by Max Clifford”?

    [Apologies, Mr Toots, for clambering upon your soapbox whilst you were still on it]

    • andytoots

      You are, of course, absolutely right. Although, we should perhaps take the rose-tinted goggles off and remember that New Faces gave us Jim Davidson and Lenny Henry. :o|

      In a post I wrote last year, I did actually say (and I quote): “From a business perspective, it’s impossible to deny Katie Price’s shrewdness and general business acumen.” But like you, that’s all she’ll get from me in the way of credit.

      And I completely agree with you: there’s no real ambition these days, other than to be a WAG or a pop star or a socialite of some description (if that description is: vacuous moron).

      Anyway, you win the award for longest comment ever left on this blog. Congratulations! Now, get off my soapbox. Or at least chip in so that I can buy a deluxe soapbox (they’re wider and can accommodate 3-4 people).

      • I winned a award? Cool! What do I get? I’m honoured!

        I’m more than happy to chip in for a box of OMO. Bumper new-school-year box, for getting shirt collars whiter than white.

        You’re right re: “socialites” – famous for being famous. If Mr Toots has any spare pocket money, download or procure the proper CD of Silver Jubillee by Fascinating Aïda – specifically for the track It Isn’t Too Late To Be Famous. You can probably get that on iTunes for Not Much Cash and still have enough money to buy a Pyramint and a can of fizzy Ribena. The whole album is as cynical re: modern society as you and I. Ditto the DVD of the same, in fact. Oooooh I did some googlement! You can watch said song on Youtube, thus saving much time and funds, which can be better spent on a nice pie. I do like a nice pie. Post me one, in a Jiffy bag. Ta.

  6. Man I gotta start reading more… celebrity magazines… I am missing out on a whole world of humour, wit and sheer bollocks. Note to self start watching The only way is Essex…

    • andytoots

      Shortly after you start watching The Only Way Is Essex you may well have the overwhelming urge to cry. Don’t fight it. Just let the tears flow, as you come to terms with the fact that this is the world we’ve created for ourselves.

  7. Scarlet -lizzieborden6

    It upsets me that people are being paid to do nothing. If that’s the case, I could give Steve Jobbs’ bank account a run for its money.

    • andytoots

      Ha! You do do something. You’re a mother of two. As far as I’m concerned, you should be earning more than these ‘celeb’ nonentities put together!

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