I’ve been gleefully devouring Hello magazine since the early 1990s, while simultaneously despising every celebrity sell-my-story sad-sack in there. This dual love/loathing for celebrity culture creates contradictory forces which miraculously, in my case, seem to live in happy co-existence. Yes, I read, actually inhale, New Weekly but I also have “read it, enjoy it but never, ever believe it” etched onto my cortex.
I have long suspected I am not alone in this. For example highly educated and cynical librarians have many hidden shallows; the Central library staff room is groaning under the weight of frothy celebrity mags. Who needs Dostoyevsky when there is an Australian Women’s Weekly to gobble? But one thing I cannot stomach is celebrity do-gooders, and Celebrity: How entertainers took over the world and why we need an exit strategy explains in a much more coherent and entertaining way than I ever could just exactly why people like that Bono need to shut their yappers and give world peace a wide berth.
Marina Hyde, the author of this rollicking good read, writes a celebrity column for The Guardian called Lost in Showbiz; she also mercilessly parodies celebs in a mock diary column A peek at the diary of… Like the Dr Doolittle of Celebsville, she attempts to decipher celebrity grunts and gobbledygook to find out if their forays into the world outside the movie studio or catwalk have any real meaning or long term benefit. The resounding answer is no. Hyde then hilariously proceeds to bash celebrity in all its self-serving attempts to “give something back” or use their fame to highlight or bring focus to issues, issues they regularly fail to understand.
Hyde is a little light on answers to the celebrity conundrum: how do we get them back in their box, back to what the famous have always done well- wear sparkly frocks, go to orgies and generally brighten up our drab little lives? Nonetheless this book will make you snicker out loud and roll your eyes at the fatuous arrogance of the celluloid chosen ones. Angelina, Sharon Stone, Richard Gere etc you have been rumbled.