So Alan Sugar has chosen a new ‘apprentice’ – do I give a shit? Apparently Big Brother has started again on Channel Four – could I care less? Somebody vulnerable and possibly mentally ill who sang something on Britain’s Got Talent is the latest media sensation – do I really care that they’re milking their supposed ‘exploitation’ by ruthless TV executives for all that it is worth? Some celebrity or other is busy trying to get the record number of followers on Twitter, or whatever the latest passing internet fad is – am I remotely interested? As you can tell, I currently feel completely alienated fro what passes for popular culture in this country. Am I turning into Prince Charles? Will I start denouncing modern architecture next? Perhaps it is just an age thing – as I continue my slide into middle age many of the things that used to give me childish pleasure now seem utterly trivial. I realise now that there is nothing big or clever about posting dog turds to former employers, and that shouting ‘tosspot’ at the TV screen every time David Cameron is on doesn’t constitute informed political debate. Likewise, over the years I’ve come to realise that celebrities are rarely (if ever) motivated by altruism when they decide to get involved in any type of charitable work or campaign. Let’s face it, the whole reason these individuals sought fame in the first place was in order to try and satisfy a deep-seated psychological craving for attention. It’s all about their egos. Consequently, I’ve come to the end of my tether with their attempts to co-opt every form of protest and every humanitarian cause to their own self-glorification. OK, I know that I’ve never had much time for celebrities per se, let alone their charitable campaigning, but I’ve finally been pushed over the edge into total intolerance by Mia Farrow’s bloody ‘hunger strike’ for Darfur refugees, (not, I’m sure, that any of them actually asked her to do it). If anything ever highlighted the way in which celebrities want all the kudos and self-satisfaction which accompany dramatic gestures for good causes, but don’t actually want to endure the inconvenient and unpleasant consequences that such sacrifices entail, then this debacle does. To cut a long story short, Farrow has given up her ‘hunger strike’ because it made her ill. Well, no shit! Isn’t that the point of hunger strikes – that in order to draw attention to a cause someone forces the rest of the world watch them become ill and, ultimately, die?
But not to worry, Britain’s village idiot, Richard Branson, has come to the rescue, agreeing to take over where Mia Farrow left off. But only for three days. For fuck’s sake! This farcical affair has to be the ultimate in celebrity dilettantism. Either take the concept of a hunger strike seriously, or don’t bother. Really, if you don’t feel strongly enough about your cause to give your life for it, then fuck off. How would it have been if Bobby Sands had decided that he was going to give up his hunger strike after a few days because he was feeling unwell? Does anybody believe that if the Indian government hadn’t thought that Gandhi was serious in his intent to fast-until-death in 1947 they would have made any attempt to heal the sectarian rifts which had prompted his actions? Of course bloody not! But of course, that doesn’t matter where celebrity campaigns are concerned. The whole point – as they see it – is that everyone should be overawed that someone as wealthy, famous and generally fabulous as them should even consider taking such drastic action. The authorities should be so shocked that they’ve driven the great and the good to not eat for three days that they automatically mend their ways! What next, I wonder? Perhaps Bono will threaten to immolate himself over third world debt, except that he’ll douse himself in water, rather than petrol, as that’s better environmentally. Besides, actually burning himself to crisp would increase his carbon footprint and contribute to global warming. Celebrities, eh? What a bunch of fuckwits. However, despite my disdain for celebrities and everything they stand for, I have to confess that I too have been tempted by their world. Back when the Sleaze was really hitting the skids traffic-wise, one of the desperate measures to restore traffic that I considered was celebrity endorsement. Whether we like it or not, the general public are in thrall to celebrities – a shit ‘satire’ site supposedly written by a famous comic will always get better traffic than a good one written by a regular person. My problem was that I don’t actually know any celebrities. So I joined Twitter (for the first time), as this seemed the easiest way to get close to the great and the good, and started following various celebs. It was a fascinating experience, watching all those ordinary people falling over themselves to try and get noticed by the famous, as if some of that success and glamour might rub off on them, if only they could get some celeb to respond to a direct message or, even better, follow them.
Seeing all this adulation, I began to think, wouldn’t it be great if I could get myself into this position? If I could just get some famous followers who then mentioned The Sleaze on their feeds or, even better, in interviews, I could get the site’s traffic up, get noticed by the great and the good and, best of all, allowed into their privileged world. But then I read some of their vacuous posts and was jolted back to reality. Thank God! It was like the ‘Last Temptation of Doc Sleaze’! I’d nearly been seduced into betraying the very principles The Sleaze was built on by visions of glamourous celebrity lifestyles and millions of devoted followers. Damn it – I’m the ‘Anti-Celebrity’ for Christ’s sake! I detest everything they stand for! I can’t think of anything I’d enjoy less than the celebrity lifestyle with its emptiness and lack of values beyond material acquisition. As for the idea of celebrity endorsement for The Sleaze – that’s absolute anathema to the spirit of the publication! In the face of celebrity temptation I was in danger of losing sight of the fact that this is meant to be an underground publication. The fact is that I don’t want the kind of visitors who only read something because they’ve seen that some minor celebrity has supposedly read it. I don’t want the kind of readers who just follow the trends. No. What I want are visitors like you – intelligent, independent minded people who aren’t easily shocked and are open to having their preconceptions and prejudices challenged. People who don’t mind occasionally moving out of their usual comfort zones. In other words, readers of quality. Sadly, they’re still difficult to find (especially at weekends). But we’re getting there – without celebrity endorsements. So, until next time, keep it sleazy!