YOU know actor George Clooney personally and regard him as the nastiest person on earth.
You are invited to a dinner party with the traditional girl-boy/girl-boy seating. You are placed next to George Clooneywhom you cannot stand the sight of. You cut your eyes out with the fish knife and the soup spoon rather than look at Clooney.
The paramedics arrive and ask why. You reply: ‘if you knew George Clooney, you would do it too.’
This dinner-party anecdote drills to the weird core of the phenomenon we know as the cult of celebrity.
I have at least seven celebrities embedded in my book of anecdotes, musings and stuff-made-up, 7 Shouts. I may have put the celebs in for a nobler reason than wanting to sell more books. I probably did.
The cult of celebrity does not upset me as much as it does other, particularly male, critics. Still, I find it a worthy topic of discussion at dinner parties or elsewhere.
The critics mundane gambit against the thrust of celebrity is to rail against the idolised who are famous for being famous. I do not have to mention names such as Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton but I will. It would be a shame to waste a column on celebrity without frequent name dropping.
I find fame for fame’s sake to be the most elegant expression of the cult of celebrity. To me, the most troubling part of the fame of Ms Kardashian and Ms Hilton – Kimi and Paree, as I like to call them – is they do stuff. To be and not to do; that is the answer for the ultimate celebrity challenge.
What does annoy me most about the cult followers is when they express undying love or eternal hatred of someone they have never met. I doubt Mr Clooney is a nasty person at all and he would certainly be far from the nastiest on the planet but part of me wishes it were true. I could use it as evidence against anyone who says he is so gorgeous. Ooh, and a really nice guy, too.
I am in the room when you are saying this. Am I not gorgeous and a really nice guy? Well, no! I am just your average citizen of the world with good points and bad – just like George Clooney, I suspect.
At the other end of the celebrity spectrum are the cultists who say, ‘I can’t stand him/ her’ when a celebrity face appears in the media or on a television screen. You know the critic is a cultist as they use the exact same words every time, ‘I can’t stand him/ her.’ Again, I’m here in the room. Why can’t you can’t stand me?
I will explain the context of some of celebrity drop-ins throughout 7 Shouts.
Russell Crowe is there to illustrate the Aussie habit of claiming a famous New Zealander as their own.
Celebrities can lose their Australian nationality if they behave badly. Russell Crowe might lose his place in the sequel to 7 Shouts. He has fewer than 400,000 Twitter followers, compared to Kevin Spacey’s 2.2 million. What’s going on there, Rusty (as I like to call Crowe)? I do not wish to threaten a character in my book, but Rusty, I am expecting a better performance. No, Russell, talk to the hand about that Academy Award; we are on about celebrity in the real Nirvana of fame, Tweetyland, not Hollywood. For the record, I have 21 followers on Twitter and I would like to thank every one of them for their support and all that sort of guff.
Pop duo the Veronicas I used in 7 Shouts to illustrate how media based in State capitals appropriate celebrities from outside their borders. Twins Lisa and Jess Origliasso grew up in Pine Rivers shire, north of the Queeensland capital but Brisbane media claims them as their own. Lisa has 204, 000 Twitter followers and Jess 195, 000. If we can spark some sibling rivalry, those numbers might increase before the release of the sequel to 7 Shouts.
Performer Delta Goodrem – 173,000 Twitter followers; come on Del (as I like to call her) lift your game – is in a fun piece about buying a Christmas present for an impoverished teenage boy by trying to line him up for a date with Delta.
I needed sports celebrities in 7 Shoutsand two of them are Australian Olympic swimmer Jessicah – I really do call her Jess – Schipper and Ethiopian middle distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj. It was a privilege to see Schipper rise from a humble hard-working schoolgirl to an Olympic Gold Medal winner. For the El Guerrouj story, I was able to work in Rastafarian hero Haile Selassie and I was pleased about that.
Two children’s authors were literary celebs: Aussie Colin Thiele and Brit J. K. Rowling.
I am pleased Australian political celebrity Kevin Rudd is making the news everyday with his challenge to become Prime Minister again. All I need him to say is ‘I’m not challenging; if I were, it would be in 7 Shouts’. US president Barrack Obama visited Australia so that he would appear in the book.
The cult of celebrity may appear to be based on delusional connections with fantasy figures. But at heart, it bonds real people around the water cooler, on a corner of Twitter, in the collective readership of a book. It also sells almost every commodity on earth, including 7 Shouts.