Thursday, August 21, 2008

P, breakfast of celebrities

A certain married media high-flyer is having to deal with rumour that he has gotten a florist pregnant.
If the study of Grammar were to become popular again, sentences such as that above would be ideal for parsing. I am sure you will not be surprised to learn that I took it from About Town, Bridget Saunders' section in the Sunday Star-Times. Far from denigrating this sentence, I find it has an irresistible rhythm; I particularly like the form of "he has gotten a florist pregnant."

The question, though, is to what this is about. The one aspect of both Ms Saunders' gossiping and that of her rival, Ms Glucina, that I find perplexing is that most of us will have no idea as to the identities of their subjects. I can understand that the handful of people who might be able to make a connexion between a married media high-flyer of their acquaintance and a pregnant florist whom they also know, might gain some satisfaction from realising that the pregnancy of the latter is due to the virility of the former. For most of us, however, the knowledge that there is rumour about an unnamed but married media high-flyer and the pregnancy of an unnamed florist is inconsequential. We do not know these people. Bridget has not named them. So why does this gossip about unknown people fill up space in both Sunday papers?

The obvious answer is that if Bridget or Rachel were to name the subjects of their gossip, their respective employers would face Action of a legal kind (Ms Glucina proudly claims that they won't sue in the masthead for her gossip – of course they won't: nobody knows who they are). So, why not print nothing? Publishing the gossip without naming the celebrities seems pointless. An essential element of gossip is knowing the subject. If we were able to recognise the subject, then the subject would be able to sue. But if we cannot recognise the subject, what use is the gossip?

At least Guessing The Celebrity is a game we can all enjoy (not suitable for children under 18). Just for fun, try this one:
Which high-profile media man is widely believed to enjoy the 16th letter of the alphabet with his media mates, to the detriment of his career?
I am not as coy as Bridget, so I will give you a hint by telling you that the 16th letter of the alphabet is P, the name given to a popular narcotic substance.

So who is it, then? Most of them, I would have thought. Isn't that why television is so bad? Only people strung out on amphetamines could think that back-to-back forensic cop shows could be a winner. Only speed fiends could make such sitcoms as that one set in a backbackers – you know, the one that was supposed to save local comedy, the one without a single funny line in its entire run. Surely, nobody in his right mind would make such decisions.

In any case, all celebrities are on P, are they not? Whenever a celebrity encounters Tragedy (and lets face it, Tragedy haunts the lives of the rich and famous, as any reader of the women's weeklies will know) the 16th letter of the alphabet will not be far away. It is either the cause or the effect of Tragedy. Celebrities fall apart because of a P habit or they pick up a habit because the centre could not hold. Why they choose such a tawdry drug with which to ruin their lives is beyond me; perhaps there is not enough coke around, or perhaps they are just tawdry people.

Ah yes, that would be it. They are tawdry people, all of them. It doesn't matter that we don't know the identity of the P fiend or the florist-impregnator, all that matters is that each week we read the stories of media people doing bad things and so we are confirmed in our belief that these people are all despicable. And yet these are the people who make the media we consume.

What a strange world it is where media people make the media and are the subjects of it, when their peccadilloes are partially revealed to a slavering public which barely knows any of them as individuals but groups them together as a contemptible whole.

It is like having a priesthood of paedophiles – no, forget that; I meant to make a smilie. It is like having an aristocracy - people who control our lives but whose own lives are deplorable. Yes, that would be it: a media aristocracy.


Robyn said...

The best blind items give some sort of clue as to the celebrity's identify. For example, if one were to gossip about Tom Cruise, one might make some sort of pun involving "cruising". Not that Tom Cruise is, etc.

But the blind items Saunders and Glucina use might as well be "Which married man has tongues wagging after revealing he had sex with a sexy neighbour" Why, it was African Bushman Nǃxasi who slept with single lady N!!Ai.

I'm not especially entertained by these stories of media folk and property developers who might possibly be having more fun than me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, gossip columns might be justifiable if they were put in the section next to the cartoons and crosswords.

Anonymous said...

I also dislike the implicit classism whereby a media person running round with a florist is some sort of 21st-century recasting of an Upstairs/Downstairs shamola. Ugh. Florists need adulterous lovin' too!

Peter in Dundee said...

So Paul if we have a media aristocracy, and I don't disagree, then would you approve of a French solution? or the more recent British one?

Russell Brown said...

Why, it was African Bushman Nǃxasi who slept with single lady N!!Ai.

I heard that too. Not surprising though. They always were slappers, those N!!Ai sisters.

Anonymous said...

Elmo Not on P!
Elmo on Rove, recently, though...