Archive for the ‘Fame’ Category

Susan Boyle and the Reality of Reality TV

June 2, 2009

I’m sure it is global news by now that the widely feted Susan Boyle has been taken into a private clinic following her failure to win Britain’s Got Talent. She seems to have suffered some kind of mental breakdown. It has been clear from the outset that Susan is a vulnerable woman. I’ve read at least one report that states that she has a learning difficulty- I would not be surprised if that were true. She is clearly vulnerable and the strain she was under was written all over her face on last week’s shows. Her story raises a number of issues.

1. The format of BGT has long disturbed me. While they have unearthed some great talent- the dancers who won the show were fantastic- the format is concerning where in the auditions anyone and everyone is put in front of the public. The result is that people who have no talent, who are deluded and obviously suffering from different kinds of disorder are put on display so that they might be humiliated. It reminds me of the old Bedlam and side shows where people who ought to have been protected because of their weakness became a curiosity. The finals are great as talent is put on display. The auditions I find hard to watch.

2. Susan was clearly thrown to the wolves aka the tabloid press. She was clearly offered no protection so that her life was sifted in an attempt to create a monster. The tabloid press could not be happy celebrating her talent. They wanted to destroy her. This is what reality tv creates- tabloid fodder as the press tries to destroy people. The blatant hypocrisy surrounding the death of Jade Goody is another clear example. In such an environment ‘giving them their chance’ is no defence of the treatment of vulnerable people

3. No doubt the powers that be on BGT will argue that Susan deserved a chance. We are constantly fed the mantra by these shows that the greatest thing anyone can be given in stardom. There are of course gifted people but the last thing they need in their state of vulnerability is to be thrust into the limelight. Susan’s case makes clear that there are more important things- such as peace of mind- than being rich and famous.

4. We keep hearing the line that success on shows like BGT will change people’s lies forever. No it won’t. Winning a talent competition has nothing to do with anyone’s eternal destination. That is determined by being in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In our fame, obsessed, money drive, show biz driven, society we need to recognise that this is the most important thing about us. Celebrity is at best fleeting. It is always a two-edged sword. But God’s love is everlasting.

I hope Susan recovers well from her problems. that she finds support from people who truly have her best interests at heart. And I hope above all that she comes to know the peace of God in her life.

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Old Rocker goes off his rocker!

September 5, 2008

For a long time Sir Cliff Richard has lived out his Christian faith in the eye of the public. As a pop star and entertainer he has lived his life with integrity under the media spotlight which is no little achievement in Britain. Whilst he has used his fame to winsomely commend the Christian faith. This makes it all the more sad to hear of his recent commendation of same sex blessings. According to a report in today’s Times Cliff says ‘I think the Church must come round and see people as they are now…Gone are the days when we assumed loving relationships would be solely between men and women.’

His comments highlight a number of issues.

  1. We once again see the danger of figures in the public eye who become spokesmen for Christianity simply because they are in the public eye. Cliff is a hugely influential figure and this will make his comments all the more damaging.
  2. We again see the danger of allowing cultural norms to determine morality. Here Cliff simply repeats what is going on in our culture rather than challenging it.
  3. Cliff somewhat misses the point in his comments. Christians have long recognised that people can have deep, loving relationships with people of the same sex. The issue is not friendship or companionship it is a sexual relationship.
  4. Cliff makes no mention of the Bible as the authority for his comments. His authority has become his opinion which he sadly seems to think carries weight because of his public profile.

I do hope that in the days to come those who have spiritual influence in Cliff’s life will gently restore him and show him the folly of the stance that he has taken.

You can read the article here- timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4675929.ece

Star Stories

August 30, 2007

I had a Chinese takeaway for tea tonight- Mandarin City at Ballyhackamore, excellent if a bit on the pricey side. Whilst waiting for my order I read a bit of the Belfast Telegraph and was struck by two star stories.

Story 1 was a headline story about Belfast born tv presenter Eamonn Holmes using some obscene language in an interview with Maxim magazine- imagine the shock of finding someone using foul language in a quasi-pornographic magazine. Holmes it said was unrepentant over the language he used. He said, “And what – you’re not supposed to use it?” It shows how much we buy into the images that television presents us with. In this case Eamonn Holmes daytime tv presenter with easy-going charm and slightly bland persona. That his use of foul language should be an issue exposes how much we use the unreality of tv to anaesthetise to reality. To borrow from TS Eliot we cannot stand too much reality. As Christians it has struck me for a long time that we ought to engage our critical faculties much more as we consider not only the content of of tv programmes but the role that it plays in shaping our worldview.

Story 2 was a feature on Owen Wilson the Hollywood star who it is alleged recently tried to commit suicide. Again it plays against Owen’s laid back, fun loving guy persona. Clearly however for all his success Owen is a very unhappy man. The really said thing that the article brought out was that no-one in Hollywood really cared about Owen. The big concern was how this might impact projects that Owen is tied into. Owen for all his money and fame is a product, not a person. Not for the first time fame is shown to have a bitter aftertaste. I am reminded of the words of psychiatrist David Serwan-Schreiber writing in the Times a few years back of celebrities who have lived fast and died tragically. he spoke of how they discovered that, ‘Not talent, or glory, or money or the admiration of others can make life fundamentally easier.’ I hope Wilson recovers not only physically but that he is also restored to psychological and spiritual well-being.
We live in an escapist culture where many will buy into the unreal image of the screen and where many will seek salvation in the pursuit of such unreality. The ultimate reality however is God. We live in his world and the relationship we have with him is ultimately all that matters about us.