Thursday, March 08, 2007

Social clamouring

Gentle reader,

I should post more often but I am busy writing a self-help book for existentialists, At Home With Unheimlich. What follows is something I wrote a while back on the same theme as the previous two posts. I will write something new soon, I promise.

Leaked memo reveals truth about Herald on Sunday

The Herald on Sunday has been rocked by scandal following the leaking of an internal memo which reveals that many of the people in its celebrity photographs section are nobodies.

The paper has gained widespread acceptance for its insightful photographs of people standing around at parties, some of whom are known celebrities but many who are only vaguely recognisable, if at all. With the release of the memo comes the shocking truth that they are not remotely famous.

The memo was written to Herald senior management by sub-editor Justine de Vlaminck, whom sources say was known as Debbie Smith when working in her first job on the Porirua Gazette. It details the strategies behind the making of the celebrity photos section: "really there are not that many real celebrities in Auckland and there are not that many places where they congregate. It can be a hard job filling three pages with photographs. "

"We have a bad time finding places to go to photograph people who are even mildly well-known. Theatre openings and art gallery viewings would seem the obvious choices but real A-list celebs are mostly pretty stupid and try to avoid people who talk in complete sentences. The folk who do hang out at these events are generally old, ugly and badly-dressed, even if they are the intellectual capital of the knowledge economy. Besides, our readers wouldn't have a clue who they are. Our readers are morons.

"So, once we have taken the week's snaps of Charlotte Dawson and Marc Ellis, we look around for people who are tolerably recognisable. Usually, there is not much in choices of location: the opening of yet another Parnell restaurant, some party at a posh car dealership, the unveiling of the first collection by this week's breathtaking new fashion talent. It is all pretty humdrum. There are few pickings when it comes to star quality either: what genuine paparazzi-bait would bother going out on a wet Tuesday night to a piss-up at a hairdressing salon?"

"What we do is find anyone who looks hot and could pass for a bit-part player in Shortland Street. It's not that difficult for the photographers: most of them only picked up a camera in the first place so they could ogle girls' boobies without being arrested. At this kind of bash there will usually be a bunch of Dio girls who would do pretty much anything for a Strawberry Vodkatini. As for men, we can always find a few foppish boys who look as if they might be heirs to vast manufacturing fortunes, even if they came on the bus from Avondale.

"We then top off the evening by taking a picture of any bald guy with no neck who happens to be passing. The mid-life crisis blokes all try to look like former All-Blacks when they are dangling their BMW keyrings in front of nail-technicians at Sponge Bar; if it fools those floozies, it will fool our readership. Actually, those floozies are our readership: ask the marketing department."

"When we crawl back to the office the next morning, we are usually too hung-over to remember who we photographed or where, so we just make stuff up. That's why everyone in the photographs has such silly names, like Clint Rutgers or Pollyanna Caboose. Most of the events are just as fictitious. A lot of them are just staff parties; sometimes we don't even have to leave the building to get a photo shoot."

"It might all seem just a tad ethically challenged, but what does it matter? Nobody's going to win a Qantas doing this sort of work and Robert Fisk isn't going to come looking for a story about us. It doesn't matter to the readers anyway. Down the line in Waiwhatever, they think anybody in the big city who dyes her hair blonde and cultivates an eating disorder must be famous."

No spokesman for the Herald on Sunday was available for comment.


Anonymous said...

nice piece paul.
considering its accuracy i don't think it qualifies as satire - by the herald's standards it would count as investigative journalism.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! I actually thought it was true until I did a mental double-take and read the intro more carefully.