Lindsay -a note


So let me explain the comments…

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Now I know Lindsay has done nothing , NOTHING worthy of note since her desultory documentary series ‘Lindsay’ which highlighted both how screwed up her life was and how out of touch she remains with reality. But even though I don’t have 4 kids (let alone 4 cats, although it’s a dream that my heart very much makes when I asleep) I would almost consider cheering for Lindsay (sans children) on the big wedding day, like I attempted that night many moons ago in London.

My friend and I, having caught a matinee of Speed-the-Plow on the cheap and on an unseasonably warm October day decided for the hell of it to wait after the performance. We did so to see if the starlet (it was doubtful at this point whether she could still call herself an actress, west end play or not) would come out and sign some autographs for the hangers-on.

No show.

My friend and I, very much free of time constraints moved on to the nearest local and settled in for a few ciders, with the bulk of our chat relating to seeing –in person- the hot mess that was Lindsanity. We agreed, merrily, boozily that we should return to our original spots outside the theatre to see if the fateful crowds had grown and, most interestingly, whether the starlet herself would come out. We were not disappointed. There was a sense of near hysteria from the loyal fan boys and girls who spoke in frenzied and revered tones about their personal experiences and rumours on the grapevine about their girl Lindsay – ‘She come out on Saturday, I know she did… because {the speaker adopts a dreamy, faraway tone} I was there’ said one; ‘I’ve been outside three times,’ said another, clearly desperate for Lindsay to show (her misappropriated dedication and unwavering loyalty was both sad and oddly touching); ‘she shows on matinee days, my friend told me, she’ll totally show’.

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Lucy with the mega-fans

My friend and I, absorbing the fever pitch around us discussed whether this was akin to either Beatlemania or One Direction fanfare, before I pitched in and argued it was more aligned to the three foot deep crowd desperate to catch a glimpse of the oft-mocked junkie/murderer Courtney Love. ‘I should know,’ I sagely added, ‘as she kissed me. On the lips.’

Did LL show? Let’s not be silly! She appeared in the shadows before seamlessly entering the gateaway car outta there, leaving the coterie of loyal minions to take as many photos of her exit  whilst speaking in a sort of Mean Girls inspired reverie ‘I’ve waited for an hour, but I got a picture of her car, it was awesome!’

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The getaway car

You see, Lindsay’s life as a millennial – and I hope I’m not exaggerating here is akin to the other tricky zeitgeist- moments of our lives such as worldwide terrorism, social anxiety over our social media and the more personalised fear that we can’t have *it* all because we currently got nothing, apart from Netflix – and the only way I’m gonna Netflix & Chill is watching Li-Lo’s Labor Pains, you get me?!

In many ways I see Lindsay more than I do actual friends. Her fame helped get my blog another 20-50 hits with the original blog post, a personalised but very much unauthorised-nature-v-nurture biographical piece, We Need to Talk about Lindsay. Similar to the groundbreaking novel the question asked was whether Lindsay had become a pathological liar, occasional thief and sustained law-breaker because she couldn’t be bring herself to follow the laws of the land, or whether it was because, like the Michael Jacksons of this world (my most successful piece by far, although I wasn’t happy when a commenter was told by another commenter that  she could write a far better argument than mine) she had a far-from-ideal childhood. Specifically, with a mother who I’m saying almost certainly (FAO: Dina, I’m saying ‘think’ so you can’t sue me)had drug dependency issues and a father who’s regular absenteeism, embezzling, domestic violence and prison stints made sure they became ever infamous and ever ‘trash’. Whatever happened from my last article, we all knew Lindsay’s career was almost completely derailed.

But how low is too low, how derailed is derailed? I mean I cringed when infamous momager, Dina Lohan proudly announced to the media she had negotiated a generous deal with the owner of the world’s largest animal pornography collection (I read this in Linda Lovelace’s memoir, Ordeal. Truly beyond the pale, that man. Interestingly, as mentioned in the previous piece, Lindsay was meant to play Linda Lovelace, but was too busy possibly/maybe/definitely shoplifting to read the script), Hugh Heffner  for LL to quite literally do a Marilyn for Playboy. ‘It’s gonna be classy,’ said Dina, which of are the famous last words when talking Playboy. Even Glenn Close helped stick the boot in when a paparazzi informed her of Lindsay’s later job – poor girl, she mirthlessly replied.

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A weird drawing I found in an LA restaurant of Lindsay just before the premiere of the unanimously panned ‘Liz and Dick’

I live-streamed Lindsay’s performance in Liz and Dick and accepted all of the (devastating) reviews as gospel.  The film, a biopic—cum-unintentional comedy suffered from catatonic performances and truly underwhelming dialogue (to paraphrase: Elizabeth’s never-aging mother to Elizabeth at a Hollywood party – You’ve been married four times and you’re not even thirty! Elizabeth responds to mother within a beat -Who’s counting!), considering this was meant to be the start of her comeback, it garnered her zero momentum. There was also the wig, the worst wig in televisual history, and the worst fainting scene where Lindsay wears the worst wig in history that helped this movie become a worldwide joke.

Away from acting, I watched (for my sins) all eight episodes of the go-fund-me charity project ‘Lindsay’ in which Oprah, dreadful hack that she is helps orchestrate humiliation after humiliation in the hope of ‘rehabilitating’ Lindsay whilst also scoring mammoth ratings. As ever a genius, she wisely (unwisely?) guesses it makes far better television to let Lindsay circle her way into the gutter. At one point her PA, who has an entirely thankless role, which he leaves by the end of the series, harangues Lindsay to move her car. Lindsay, again confused with the laws of the land tells her PA a way of handling the fines without moving the car. ‘Oh no, what I do is just put the old parking tickets there,’ to which her exasperated PA replies ‘Yeah, I know that Lindsay, they just whack another on. Three tickets and they’ll take your car.’

The show wasn’t renewed and few lessons were learnt, apart from the fact vodka pizza doesn’t actually contain vodka.

In her personal life, I read with stunned horror that the bottom had well and truly fallen out of the operation when more and more accounts of Lindsay’s escorting across Europe spread like a Californian bush fire (she I assume won’t be entertaining on one of the yachts in the south of France when I finally visit next month for my cheese and wine trip).

And I inwardly expressed great sadness when Lindsay used Instagram as a conduit for her family strife by announcing to the world, via Lindsay emoji that she was ‘done with mom,’ before a rapid 180 when she directly called out to mom to get in touch and see her children. Needless to say I didn’t need to read the comments to know that Lindsay was no longer the Lohan cash cow.

I, as mentioned was there, cheering when she FINALLY acted in something that didn’t feel put together within about 48 hours (needless to say The Canyons and other acting cameos are barely worth mentioning.) Speed-the-Plow suffered from being a Hollywood story without a convincing plot, but in a nutshell Lindsay Lohan played a secretary who managed to convince a major producer through her sex appeal to reject a commercial (read: crummy)  vehicle by instead going for a post-apocalyptic tale that nobody in the audience could understand, thereby helping craft his downfall. Think Hollywood weighing up a Michael Mann movie or a Battlefield Earth-type movie). The play at about 70 minutes was punctuated by a pointless interval which completely grounded the pacing of the play and, crucially destroyed any potential for pure theatre. Still, the ovation was had and now I’d finally seen *the* child actor from my generation, I could rest easy, knowing that Lindsay might continue acting, possibly hooking, but that her day in the sun was all but had. Yesterday’s hero, yesterday’s news, but at least with a final acting hurrah of sorts.

How good, then to find out that Lindsay had got engaged. So good it created a comment from Adrian, 43, father of 4 and this very article. Unlike others I avoided the glaring pointers – ‘She looks 50’ ‘This won’t last’ ‘if the Russian had a brain he wouldn’t marry her’ ‘What did Lindsay see in the multi-millionaire’ ‘what an asinine comment [to say she’s pulling a Robert Downey Jr.], Lindsay will never work for a legitimate film company again, not even n their Men’s room’ and felt this was a true celebration. The engagement party, for example was so steeped in love that the parents, you know the dad who said he thought Lindsay would die at 27 and the mum who wouldn’t even return her daughter’s calls turning up to congratulate the union, for richer, never for poorer.

At least temporarily, I can put the most divisive questions from my previous article to one side. At least for the present it seems we no longer need to talk about Lindsay Lohan-Tarabasov. Pazdravleniya

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Girl Least Likely to: Part 2


So if this book is how not to be a woman then the concept is really hammered home on a physical and mental level.  Her take on aversion therapy (from watching 42 movies one Christmas in her teen years instead of socialising and challenging her fears of human interaction) is most focused on sex and the body. Much of her esteem issues could carefully be interwoven with an Atwoodianesq woman. Liz unintentionally apes Margaret’s female dystopia with the desperate control over food as a form of power. This mainly focuses on her daily intake of a ‘Neal’s Yard peanut butter sample’ as a shining example of obsession; especially when it leads to her temporarily losing sight, categorically refusing any ‘hot liquids’ and, at her lowest ebb, spending 6 months in a clinic (where she reached her highest weight, 8 stone). The best example of her ability to be outside her body looking in (so commonly found in Atwood novels like Surfacing, The Edible Body and Lady Oracle) is best remonstrated by humiliation Liz holds on to so tightly from her teen hood. This is when her aunt makes a ‘homage’ to Liz at a village fete depicting her as the Mona Lisa by using a tampon box (supposedly smelling of crisps) and Liz very distantly noting: ‘there I was on display – a giant sanitary towel.’

As with her body, the separation between Liz and the public (men especially) is intensified by the sexual invasion of her peers at age 10, when she is attacked by a gaggle of her male classmates. This incident further manifests in a a metaphorical version of vivisection towards her body. Like Atwood’s unnamed narrator in Surfacing, who desperately wants to believe she has a body without a neck, meaning she would never be able to look disdainfully at her body again, and Liz expresses euphoric glee at having a breast reduction, aged 29 (a surgical producure that came about because of her breasts rapidly growing via the steroids she was prescribed because of her anorexia). Perhaps again we are led down the pity party route, especially when Liz recounts a temporarily diversion into modelling, designed to fundamentally enter fashion via the front door only to be told by a casting director her skin was ‘weeping’. Without bravado, Liz simply ends this unimaginable humiliation with a simple degree of acceptance: ‘Within a few minutes, so was I.’ This heart of glass confessional style means the reader can fully and hear her heart chipping, cracking, concaving, collapsing; and finally shattering, over and over, again and again

 

Relationships – much of which frames her later career success are almost too invasive to note. Frigid, she refuses her first offer of sex, and upon the second discovers she is ‘unenterable’ (it takes year for her to realise this was based on an absence of fourplay). All of this is typically Atwoodesq. Deeply, deeply open Liz exhibits no qualms or fear of mockery when she admits her hymen was broken by a doctor at the age of 26, midway through probing her about her anorexia. The sterility of the image knows no bounds. Her virginity is finally lost at 32 (although she said she was 26 to the guy in question, and in a previous article she mentioned this happened when she was in her late thirties; sadly this is not the only obvious error made by a disappointing degree of fact checking). The rich tapestry of relentless pain is fully finalised by her recounting of the blood on the sheets to which her lover believes, rather repugnantly is her menstrual blood. As the reader is only too aware, Liz’s periods were few and far between, so maybe this inclusion is another example of subtle irony on her part at this great turning point in her life. Perhaps because we believe so much in the importance of maintaining our dignity at all costs, we can’t see that she owns her failures in the end. This is just one sexual faux-pax Liz happily volunteers, in a wry humour not always picked up, but undoubtedly there. Controversy, when genuine is just as exciting to read. Her ultimate piece-de-resistance is when she admits to stealing sperm for her ‘coffee coloured baby,’ only to then somewhat counteract the concept by admitting she only dated men of ethnic origin because no white man would.

A writer of pithy, self-depreciation, her career is safely embedded along with her obsessive observations. The Evening Standard Queen-Mum-in-Hospital episode was rather amusing and her Marie Claire confessions are deliciously filled with barely-suppressed malice. Renee Zellweger, fresh from playing Bridget Jones was dismissed as emaciated and joyless. Jones wryly notes that part of Zellweger’s reticence was the rather bitchy review of Sarah Michelle Gellar from a previous issue denoting that ‘her voice was almost as thin as her West Coast body.’ Touche, Mrs (Liz) Jones.

The ending of this disjointed but multifaceted tale of caution is suitably icy and unnerving. Temporarily contemplating suicide when she is driving late at night, under the myriad of debts, fears and uncertainty, she muses on the remains of her days ahead. Although I can see she is perceived – deemed, in fact unlovable in a variety of ways, I see her as lost, perpetually in fact.

 

Having completed the book I found an article in the Mail where a book signing in Kensington was posted. The comments remained positively baffled that anyone would want to see her. Knowing her disdain for men, I passed. But I hope one person went, and told her she was appreciated… or at least one can hope. To end, I’ll leave you on Liz’s final rousing words: all those years of trying to make it, to be better than I am; years I have always and only even counted in column inches.

How right she is.

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Cover art for Liz’s third memoir…

Another review of Liz in print: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n17/jenny-diski/diary

 

The long awaited to the once-popular-now-not-so-popular Fifty Shades of Grey


To discuss Fifty Shades is basically admitting that it seems rather common for us as a society to brand anyone who trend jumps as opposed to setting as a wannabe, hipster or social climber. However we all jump when spurred, to the extend that Fifty Shades, a slightly above the ordinary tale of lust amongst a moderately lurid sexual contract between the two protagonists has us reacting with baited breath.

Reviews have ranged wildly and based on the current trend, it’s clearly much maligned as a novel. It could be jealousy, for the author whose moist mind ran all over the lubricated page has been earning nearly a million pounds at the height of the craze and the global recession. So maybe we’re seething that she’s raking it in. But then people don’t quote that reason, instead they dismiss and tag it as mummy  porn, deciding to wedge the blame – and the knife firmly with the housewives of the world. One older lady, author of the camp classic Lace which bought about the deliciously bitchy question ‘which one of you bitches is my mother?’, Shirley Conran decreed it baby porn, a description fairly easy to destroy the fantasy indicated within the novel. Some don’t bother to bookmark the genre, be it positive or negative, they simply refer to it as trash – generally awful as opposed to specifically bad.

For a book  to be successful, discussions and word of mouth is key to pushing it towards us from the counter within the store or the virtual kindle library. Let me begin my review by discussing a tea break I was having. I had by this point gotten over/embraced the jerky narrative, accepted the English anachronisms and mentally avoided the clunky, false sounding Americanisms. I’d even laughed several times at the Twinning’s English Breakfast tea odes. The brand, which in the book is billed as the midas of teas in a bizarrely overrated product placement display is referred to several times by our supposedly-intelligent-yet-frequently-very-insipid-heroine as an amazing mark of influence that Christian, the anti-hero can procure the brand at random. She even acts as if it were the great gift of romance that he is able to remember she loves the drink so; it was a twee concept. I was passed the contract – and wasn’t overly shocked by that either. Much of it seemed to like a cross between a rashly written porn script with ‘fuck’ peppered every twenty yards over the page and a less stylised rehashing of Ellis’ seminal text of mediated repression from our dastardly villain, billionaire Patrick Batman from American Psycho. I was in the midst of attempting to understand the rationale of our virginal heroine turned sexual nympho, Anastasia, when I was interrupted by someone asking “If I were reading that book”. Having absorbed several times the verb of the novel, I myself blanched fifty shades of crimson. He continued (of his accord) denouncing the book as ‘shit’ (technically subjective as a view point) whilst giving me tips as to whether I wanted to a “decent dirty book”. The book’s reputation had preceded itself.

Having felt caught like a twelve year old reading a racy Mills and Boons novella, I continued on, through the spanking, the fairy tale cliches regarding Ana’s humble origins and Christian’s exorbitant wealth. I just felt though that there were indeed too many woeful pitfalls that befell the novel. These included Ana as a 21 year old graduate who had yet to get drunk or visit a club (even though her inseparable BBF was supposedly a party animal), yet to own a laptop (the book was set in the present), and was unable to balance properly (she fell at least three major times within the novel – and this wasn’t because of high heels). Our heroine’s vice is paying homage to Hardy’s Tess, a text which is continually alluded to by our star-struck ingenue. And Christian remains the least intimidating anti-hero to surface in a novel for quite a while as his well built structure of power erodes continually within the novel. He becomes more like a wealthier Mr Darcy than a broody, flawed Heathcliff as he manages to drop all of his supposedly urgent commitments to consul our babyish narrator through the wonders of a Mac computer or a Blackberry, or – more commonly, in glorious (and physical) reality.

So there were errors akin to a Pretty Women kind of story, with our Ana hovering between a organised relationship with a billionaire and being a part time home ware worker/wallflower. She comes across as only spoiled, petulant and obtuse to her apparent fortune. All of these qualities means that the central obsession of Christian’s desire for her doesn’t feel realistic for even a chapter. She doesn’t fascinate, she fails to even stir the senses.

But perhaps there is one shining light. Aside from the light, rather tame BDSM element to the book was the nature of emotional exclusivity. Of course, this element of the book, Christian’s reticence to reveal himself is something we would be interested to know just a tad more about. And reading about the abstract concepts of love and respect for another human had me thinking, which to quote the oft used expression post-coitus of the novel, was achingly filling. Here the book manages to carefully curve away from the baby porn genre and covet some questions that we as readers can more easily embrace. And further to that, the biggest question related to the kinky practices within the book, could we be belted to a lever to give satisfaction to another? Could we ever prevail in relationship with a dominant master at hand? I felt reading the book that dedication to a lover could be as a vivid and metaphysical as having a heart of glass – and were the writing more complex, three dimensional and emotionally receptive, this could have been explored worthily. As it were, the book was suitably enjoy to read as a trashy distraction from reality and as a (very basic) introduction to the more physically demanding concept of erotic literature. A moderately deserved three stars.

A week in Hollywood: Scientology.


It was when I were in LA that I walked past a massive church with a gaudy vertical sign stating in big bold letters the one word that demonstrates such an odd alternative side of America: Scientology. The religion has been making dramatic and very bold headlines, especially because it has managed to recruit some of the biggest top guns in Hollywood. The creator famously once said: Celebrities are very Special people and have a very distinct line of dissemination. They have comm[unication] lines that others do not have and many medias [sic] to get their dissemination through (Flag Order 3323, 9 May 1973). What a prophetic genius Ron was to actively target celebrities. It’s simply hard to know whether Ron know the fallacies of trying to promote such a divisive religion with the gaggle of misfit celebrities that have thus far been enlisted. And perhaps he should have guessed there would be a rival, faddish religion to target the ‘slebs, in this case Kabbalah,  as opposed to the relatively more canon of celebs that joined the Kabbalah faith (with ‘magical wonder (and overpriced) water’ and fashionable bands worn by some major A-listers).

The Master of the order

The Hollywood story for this week is a fully researched melodrama akin to some of the best Hollywood exposes yet. It’s a silently powerful sleeper of a tale; an inverted love story featuring the doe-eyed, listless Katie Holmes escaping from a small and tiny – but ultimately very controlling husband, Tom Cruise with a little girl in the middle who is followed endlessly by waiting papparazzi. Several of the stories we’ve heard so far of the religion itself revolve around the little known process of auditing the mind to repress any tendencies that don’t conform within the branch of Scientology. Ultimately this has led to multiple conspiracy theories about what is hidden about the members – noticeably Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Certainly one particular article I’ve witnessed demonstrates just how potent a religion it really is. In particular the coverage has progressed to a full unveiling of the Sea Org location which has been deemed the Scientologist equivalent of a religious order and is thought to be about 6,000 strong. Better than any of Cruise’s recent movies (who has time to even add a note about Holmes’) we have seen several members talk about the horrors of the religion, the darkness (the hole, which sounds pretty akin to the prison from The Mount of Monte Cristo), the auditing. And thereafter, when people realise that the religion has too much ownership over their lives, the calls in the middle of the night from members trying to keep ex-members on their books (the retention team for the soul, or some equally passe name I’d imagine), which makes the whole religion sounds even further like a viable Hitchcockian thriller. On top of this, the divorce between TomKat took just two weeks to finalise, leading the general public to question just exactly what Katie had on Tom, or what Tom has been trying to hide from the public for a while.

The Scientology camp via an aerial shot. A production by Cruise and co, no doubt

 And the revelations about the all American boy are starting to surface, specifically as to why Katie ran through the fire exit instead of the front door in terms of the divorce. For starters he apparently sees himself as an OT: an Operating Thetan. To refer to Reitman’s investigation about Scientology this week, she notes that: ‘OTs can allegedly move inanimate objects with their minds, leave their bodies at will and telepathically communicate with, and control the behaviour of, both animals and human beings’ and ‘at the highest levels, they are allegedly liberated from the physical universe, to the point where they can psychically control what Scientologists call MEST: Matter, Energy, Space and Time.’ One can only imagine how incredibly exhilarating it would be to act as a fly on the wall at a meeting and see how many of these myths are discernible from reality.  Certainly the revelation I saw ‘revealed’ today has kept me guessing about the secret lives of the Hollywood elite. That blind tag is listed below : This celebrity couple is close to a final agreement over how everything – including the child/ren – is going to be divided in the divorce. However, the wife’s legal team is having her keep one chip in her pocket for the divorce trial. If the husband’s team tries any last-minute maneuvering, the wife is not afraid to reveal an incident where she (along with their child/ren) caught her husband in bed with a family friend of theirs. The friend is a professional athlete. In case you’ve been wondering why the couples rarely get together for more than an hour and a photo op – this is the reason.

Whatever the case, this information is true gold dust and let us hope more revelation keeps on coming with this firecracker of a story, and another week in the lives of the major Hollywood players.

A Scientology wedding, in Hollywood style with Hollywood smiles. I gave it four years at the time. It lasted longer than I expected in retrospect.

The rise and fall of the celebrity through the life and death of Whitney Houston


Picture the scene: Beverley Hills, home to the rich, famous, successful – and also to the Real Housewives. With Paris and her family being regulars of the exclusive suburb, and it being the area it is, it’s hardly a giant surprise that one of the most successful hotels in the neighbourhood is the Beverley Hilton – after all it is the playground for the ‘slebs who have made it to the top of their game. And it was there that 48 year old Whitney died this week in a bathtub surrounded by a cocktail of prescription drugs, booze and the most gourmeted of fast food available in America. The first time anyone saw her after she died her tongue and feet had turned blue; it was a lonely death. This lavish disorder will help turn the Beverley Hilton into a vantage point for those fans obsessed with both scandal and anything vaguely ghoulish. No doubt in the future there will be confirmed reoprts that Whitney’s voice echoes around the 434 suite.

Tragic celebrity deaths I have discovered are salacious and they also manage to turn the public into vultures descending at the corpse for clues and further information as to the cause of the demise. In my writing alone, I have acknowledged the death of two juggernauts of the music industry because there seems a canon of things to say, something entirely readable and totally write-able to the author and the reader.

Why as an avid reader and analyser of celebrity culture is this the case? I’m gotta give it my best shot to explain why.

Scandal:

Hotel California lyrically seems to uncover fairly aptly what we love to hear about: avarice and hedonism, greed and destruction. Even the Hotel itself has mystical powers with the final line being “you can check out, but you can never leave”. This song is cloaked in mystery, with many saying it revolves around the ghosts of the Chateau Marmont in L.A, and others saying it has its meaning within the Illuminati (whatever the case, it definitely feels appropriate with how Whitney bowed out). But I digress, the point of such a song is the ability to break through the surface, much the same way we try and discover the secrets of celebrities, their scandal hidden beneath the surface. In the 30s and 40s, celebrities were part of the studio system, this system had the power, for its press agent were in total cahoots with the press, meaning that many of the scandals of the stars were discovered far later, and way past their heyday. In one particular book I read, I was stunned to discover that one movie icon, Lana Turner married a man after a date in Los Angeles in Las Vegas on the same night (and this was also the first date!) This act of rebellion was to assert some power and agency in her life. Stars nowadays have the freedom to do more of what they like (not completely; again, everything is shrouded in secrecy) but have to accept that their lack of privacy is just something they can whine about to Oprah and Vanity Fair. The website TMZ alone uncovers further celebrity clues by following inebriated stars out of clubs and restaurants showering them with the most personal and crass of questions A couple of years ago these same hacks hounding the stars got a collection of tits and ass shots of celebrities in a state of undress. The media, we can safely say is now boss.

It’s hardly surprising that Whitney dying alone in a bathtub, surrounded by drugs and alcohol is the scandal that has people paying attention here.

Voyeurism:

A two-way street for celebs in the digital age as shown by stars like Demi Moore in particular. She gives us the goods via a never-ending twitter feed only then to be deeply uprooted of privacy and respect when she has a mid-life crisis/breakdown. The shots of her devastated at a recent funeral for her ‘second mother’ were tacky, and the shots of her being shuffled into rehab were humiliating for her. Yet we still read all about it and are the ultimate voyeurs.

We do it because we are escaping reality, but we also get hot tips of current styles, brands and looks as well as knowing exactly where the celebrities are, whenever we need to know, whether it means anything or not.

With Whitney and voyeurism she fell into the second great voyeurs’ trap: reality television. In Being Bobby Brown (a typical kind of title hinting at everyday celebrity lives) Whitney commits the ultimate faux-pax by simply appearing in a programme where Bobby told the world and his mother about how he had to give Whitney an enema. This wasn’t the one moment in time Whitney wanted the world to know about. The biggest voyeuristic moment however is the shameless photo that emerged from the bathroom in the house where Whitney spent seven consecutive months hiding from reality. Sad… but we still lapped it up anyway.

The original ‘bathroom’ shot leaked by Bobby Brown’s sister telling the world Houston had a problem

Condemnation:

It’s not right to condemn anyone really… but it’s okay if they’re a ‘sleb behaving badly. Just the other day Sean Penn waded in to the Falklands question by stating that Britain was behaving like colonists by keeping the islands British. A worthy sentiment I guess for an actor who wants to prove he has far higher intelligence than other actors his age (one-time-winning-now-obviously losing Charlie Sheen and Mickey Rourke – one word: the face) but how will this help Haiti? Celebs have a tough audience because everyone’s a critic. When Whitney utters a line like ‘crack is whack’  we can only aim and take fire. Whether it’s special treatment, bad surgery or bad career/romance choices, we the public, who buy into the brand believe ourselves entitled to give our two cents whether the celebs wanna hear it or not. Need I mention what the public originally thought – and is still thinking – of Bobby’s prerogative on life.

The coat isn’t even my major issue with this photo for a change…

The Body Beautiful:

A shallow addiction but a shallower industry, we must have a 360′ came purely for the celeb body at all times. The reason for this is as simple as the philosophy that you’re only as hot as the next batch of celebrities entering the domain. Whitney’s gaunt emaciated figure only fuelled the obvious, that drugs were ravaging the body (much like they did Jacksons’). Again it is out role to inform the brand whatever way we can what’s hot and what’s really not. Whitney’s face, bloated like a soccer mum on a pit stop to Wendy’s was the clue that she was not looking after herself… and hadn’t been for quite a while.

Satire:

Obviously a big thing without my having to reference programmes like SNL. Well it was American Dad that featured a desperate Whitney performing for Stan and Francine’s anniversary purely for a bag of coke. Whitney’s problems became tongue-in-cheek jokes across the country, even my friend gave me a poster once with the title ‘Don’t feed Whitney any more crack!’ Just before her death, another friend sent a link to her final outing with the text, you must write an article about this. That’s the life of the celebrity. Their messy antics make for great entertainment, it’s undeniable. Just the comments section of any website is the perfect example for people to make witty puns about stupid celebs. Again, we lap it up.

Whitney being lampooned

Conspiracy Theories:

What we live for. A movie without the final scenes. Whether it be whether Marilyn was assassinated or committed suicide or whether Phil Spector really did kill that girl from the bar for another reason, we love the idea of stars leading double lives and are desperate to grab for the dirt. This manifests in Hollywood literatures (which I read and love) referring to all the characters going on crack binges, having affairs and backstabbing each other to buggery.

The conspiracy theories about Whitney that are my favourite: well, naturally that a), she was a secret lesbian and b), that Osama Bin Laden hated America as much as he did but loved the declining Whitney Houston, to the extent where he wanted to kill Bobby Brown. As long as there are unauthorised books…and there are rumours like those, we’ll always have time for gold – and I really mean gold – like that.

Lastly:

The sting of Hollywood continues as pills and liquor still rules the lives of many. And we will, for right or wrong, be there to follow these stars every step of the rehab-ing way. The gospel singer turned American starlet turned wife and mother ending on a wrong turn from those humble christian roots to rather sad crack addict. Luckily her attributes in voice will live on. Discos will continue to play I Wanna Dance With Somebody just as funerals will continue to play I Will Always Love You. Divorcees will still listen to Didn’t We Almost Have It All? and I’ll still listen on occasion to the ridiculously catchy My Name is Not Susan.

A fallen icon but a true Hollywood legend none the less with fans who’ll love her eternally. For many that’s the greatest love of all.

One Day: a book review


I read One Day incredibly slowly, in a kind of episodic way in much the same way the book is styled. I read roughly a chapter a day, which was punctuated by the percentage gauge on the bottom of my new kindle.

The book is skillful in that it fuses a profound subject matter with a deliberately colloquial manner. Much of the book, actually virtually all of the book focuses on Emma and Dexter. Both are creatively documented – although I can help feeling Emma is written as a character who takes life’s hardships too easily. Maybe I’m putting too much of my own inflexion into the book but I struggle to believe she would neglect her first class degree for so many years purely for the authorial juxtaposition of her failure with Dexter’s success (although I am fully aware this happens.) Maybe it’s because you will on these character. It’s obvious that Dexter is portrayed as a bastard, yet not a bastard’s bastard if you know what I mean, more a influenced-by-money-and-status-kind-of-bastard, not a ‘I’m-a-true-bastard-of-bastardom’ kind of figure. In some ways it may have been great to add Dexter’s friends into the mix, and likewise with Emma. Again perhaps this is the serendipity of the book speaking out to us, that they only think of each other. Whilst I didn’t find the book excessively unputdownable I did appreciate the exceptionally meticulous approach to Nicholls’s twenty year study of English life. It’s a true skill to quietly drop a cultural reference in every chapter, but he skillfully adds this into the narrative.

The final pages, the reveal, is utterly mind-blowing because one feels it’s an ending that didn’t need to happen. Maybe Nicholls is the true bastard in the drama? I have often felt though that a great book has to have a tragic or awe-inspiring kick to leave its reader grasping for air. One Day, a book that is casual in its study of two people’s lives over the years hit its zenith in those final pages, using that wonderful technique of hindsight to allow the reader to brood over the destruction that frames the rather melancholy ending. It’s a intelligent book, not a great one but one that will draw in the punters in, for good reason too.

I have yet to see the film, but I imagine Anne Hathaway to have a devil of a job turning down that look-at-me persona she is becoming famous for. Hey, maybe I’ll even review the film when I eventually see that too.

3.5/5

Michael Jackson: a psychoanalytical investigation.


Preface: His name was Michael, but then we knew that. His epithets include: the King of pop, the Sultan of surreal, and, supposedly, the Master of misunderstood.
When my favourite author of celebrity journeys wrote his odyssey of a biopic, I read it as soon as I knew, in 2005. I also read it again in 2009, when he died, and in 2011 when the biography was extended.
When I revisited it I remembered large sections, and realised, actually, I didn’t very much like the man. I hardened to someone who allowed his past to consume his future, his relationships and his general stability.
This year I got around to discovering my article I did in 2009, about how Michael Jackson was the perfect psychological study. Since reading it, I realised that I was heavily biased and rewrote substantial sections. As seen below.

Looking to Jackson’s death & the subsequent media coverage of it, I view Michael’s life in two easy-to-demarcate psychological sections; namely repression, followed swiftly by regression. From the look of his media profile, it is relatively easy to separate the early years of Michael Jackson’s life as being repressed, from working with his father and his brothers to the bleaching, wild plastic surgery, sleepovers with people young enough to be his children. One can’t help but dig into his progressively stranger life, and with his continual profile available for public consumption, we have been unable for years to avert our greedy eyes from his unraveling car crash of a life, followed much later on by a car-crash of a career. The media as a pillar of our society can be a major factor in crystallising our opinions of a star like Michael, and boy did they have bait to work with.

MJ describing vitiligo to Martin Bashir, on Living with Michael Jackson, whilst hiding from the sun in a tree…

There are at least two major images of Michael: the first as a predator; the second, as a fragile, misunderstood (the essential word) man whose love of childhood, purity and an adult-free existance. The first was crafted by the public’s perceptions over a number of years, the media and its mocking headlines, and, obviously as a direct result of the trials. The second has Jackson’s own stamp on it, from his appearance on Oprah opening up about his childhood, his own video recorded in the mid nineties refutting the allegations of his first trial for child molestation and his own voluntary appearance on the Martin Bashir documentary, Living with Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson in a shot from Childhood. Plenty of bleaching, surgery and make up can be seen in this image

These images are fundamentally bought back from childhood, not from a psychological perception, but Michael’s own answer to every fallacy that subsequently befall him. The childhood sacrificed to fame is an oft-told story from many celebrities though. Funny lady, Ruby Wax, once stated that the need for fame is a direct result of having an unfulfilling, unhappy childhood. But clearly, Michael had to become a star because it was a family business and one that had him at the helm. Michael finally broke away from the Jackson 5 after an album and ‘Victory tour,’ which started the major separation from Michael with the Jackson family, something that Michael never appeared too bothered about, under the circumstances of that childhood.
The story of childhood fame is one we know so well, and with Michael it was no different. Money did not bring happiness. He would always resent his career as being like an arranged marriage. Michael also never forgot the beatings endured by father Joseph: the world’s greatest taskmaster. The Jackson brood would eat, sleep and breathe dancing, singing and, very soon after, became the stars of Motown. Insular, sources say, Michael became obsessed with mother Katherine wanting to protect her from her husband, in a very Freudian way. But Katherine’s continuing ability to live with a man who hit her truly disgusted Michael and thereafter, he grew into a trapped, loveless environment. So much so it seems that Michael went out of his way to bypass the mother’s role when he had his own children. Michael, repressed by circumstance was not at all like his brothers. They all rather enjoyed their idol status – and famously traded it for sexual factors. Once the Jackson 5 disbanded, many couldn’t even remember the four other members of the group, especially poor, lonely Tito.

When it was evident Michael inherited his Dad’s nose, he grew to resent the patriarch more It also became a subject of great entertainment for the brothers when they teased Michael about ‘his big nose,’ he held that against him for many years.
Michael’s lonely childhood also became as well known as the lyrics to Thriller. He was isolated, so much so in fact that he found great vocal emphasis with a rat from a film by the name of Ben.
His hatred of his father and the frustration he felt for his mother led him into the arms of a small plethora of unsuitable female friends, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli and the big cheese, Liz Taylor to name a few. With Michael going out of his way to tow a line away from his family, Michael thereafter became obsessed with helping others from unhappy or impoverished backgrounds, which coincidently turned out to be a great way to continually remind the world of his unhappy childhood whilst hanging out with children, a win-win situation for Mr. Jackson.
Jackson was perfectly honest with his emotions, in fact he grew to resent what normal people could do. They could be anonymous and they could have friends without the fear of being betrayed. Michael couldn’t, in fact he had to rely on agents and managers to control his life, which is something he grew to resent, hence why, towards the end of his life, he had managed to sack virtually all the people he had previously worked with at the height of his success. So let’s analyse the factors as to why the King of Pop, who had everything, regressed so badly. There’s one answer that keeps cropping up:

Plastic Surgery:

By coincidence, Michael’s nose was broken; so, naturally he had it fixed. This was the start of many rhinoplasties designed so his nose would literally form the polar opposite of his father. His previous nose with big nostrils was sliced to a bony muscle with plenty of skin cell matter miraculously hanging on his face. The chin, without any previous definition was ‘clefted,’ yet the eyebrows were feminized. The list continues. Why Michael continued though is anyone’s guess. This article is closest is deciphering what Michael had done: http://www.anomalies-unlimited.com/Jackson.html. (It’s a brilliant article, one I desperately wished I’d written.)

Bleaching:

I am bad with placing the date on Michael’s progressive transformation, but I’ll say it occurred around 1980 onwards. This continual progression away from the father was a clear attempt to further demonstrate his disdain from his sadistic father. What’s technically pretty amazing is that in the early years, this seemed a minor issue. With Thriller’s legendary sales, maybe people were too engrossed in his songs to make a huge deal about his skin. But Michael was living off the wall and surviving on the bleach. People weren’t blind for too long though, they noticed and condemned. Nevertheless, I have long praised the NAACP and Soul Train awards for not looking into Michael’s skin colour when awarding him many of his major awards. Luckily for these two benevolent music events, it genuinely didn’t matter if Michael were black or white to scoop the stash for his musical magic.

Make-up:

Originally Michael made supposed improvements, seemingly to look like his pseudo-mother Diana (Ross.) But if bleaching, plastic surgery and the later wearing of women’s clothing wasn’t enough, Michael than began to raid La Toya’s own make up collection, specifically for bleached skin. Many say that Michael got eyeliner tattooed on his face, although I remember vividly an image in J. Randy’s biography. This image is of Michael and his new wife, Lisa-Marie being in a hotel room in darkness. Naturally, a fresh-face Lisa-Marie turned on the light, only for Michael Jackson, sans makeup to run and hide in the bathroom whilst he applied a fresh coat of makeup. There seems to be no real reason why Michael became obsessed with mascara, but judging by the previous image problems, we can safely assume Michael became obsessed with controlling his image to further separate himself with the family that taunted his big nose. It’s hard to know whether Michael really cared about his black identity, but it definitely came second to his obsessive vanity.

Song choices:

The victim was Michael’s greatest role. Beginning when Michael got asked about his childhood, Michael gradually turned any positive PR around when he continually begrudged his past and unhappy present. Michael’s career technically fizzled out around the late nineties. Within his last really successful new album, HIStory, Michael managed to launch an aggressive fight against the media, managed to emulate a personal image as a personal savior to the blighted in society, and still found time to drag up, and incorporate his childhood. Take a look at the opening lyrics to Scream alone:

I’m Tired of injustice
I’m Tired of the schemes
it’s kinda disgusting.
what does it mean damn it.
Kicking me down
I got to get up
As jacked as it sounds
The whole system sucks

Clearly, referring to the media, this song is entertaining because of its frankly ridiculous lyrics, and it’s only bettered by the opening verse of They Don’t Care About Us:

And They Don’t Care About Us:
Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, aggravation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad

Breakdowns have never been so lucrative, evidently! The main problem with alienating the press for Michael was their role in helping cement Michael’s public image to the public. Whilst Michael became more difficult, he also wanted to project an image as a victim of his childhood, in much the same way that he also wanted to propel the image of a good loyal friend to many, through such songs as You Are Not Alone.

Childhood is basically just keeping the Peter Pan complex alive in Michael. The whole song is more sickly and saccharine than a sweet shop. The problem with these lyrics were that he was now 36, It just became a bit weird, why he wouldn’t grow up and accept that he was veering towards middle age:

Have you seen my Childhood?
I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
Like fantastical stories to share
The dreams I would dare, watch me fly…

Before you judge me, try hard to love me.
The painful youth I’ve had

Have you seen my Childhood…

One wonders why he never saw a therapist. Instead he seemed to find it much more cathartic to let it consume him.

Marrying Lisa-Marie Presley…

There were many reasons for why people were cynical about this marriage, noticeably for the public timing of the marriage, the person he married, the spontaneity of the marriage, the list goes on… This is however just another example of what Michael was turning into his mastermind subject: celebrity nepotism. Lisa-Marie’s dad was the King, who died when she was five. She had a weird childhood, he had a weird childhood. A marriage made in heaven, right? It didn’t last, but it did last for about twenty months, which is excellent for Michael and pretty good for Lisa-Marie. (Lisa-Marie later married Nicholas Cage, who probably would have been happier to have married Elvis, after all, he was his biggest fan. The marriage lasted ninety days.) This was the best way of entering Michael’s inner-circle. Other friends he had over the decades that came from celebrity backgrounds and involved a working childhood included Macullkay Culkin and Brooke Shields, along with his bestie, Liz Taylor, naturally. The problem with this marriage, and this odd assortment of friendships was very simple: for a man who entered adulthood fifteen years ago, having friends who he could discuss his calamitous childhood over and over again was not conducive, and further alienated him from normal adult life.

A Predator or Peter Pan?

Jackson regressed so much towards the end of his life that by 1993, nobody knew what to think, especially when La Toya was condemning him and Liz Taylor was defending him. Whilst the second trial looks like it was a bit of a joke – which was strung together with a major payout in mind – the first trial definitely is a tricky one to decipher. The factors that go against Michael from the first trial include the perfect description of Jackson’s genitalia (which would test anyone’s gag reflex) and the obvious payout of many million dollars. From the second trial there was Jesus juice and pornography. Either way, whatever one makes of that, it doesn’t help that Michael was entertaining sick children in his secluded range, Neverland. Many accused Michael of hunting for sick children to entice to his lair. It’s all a bit deep, that whole issue. One thing I can understand from a psychoanalytical view is that Michael was spending his life in Neverland envisioning himself as Peter Pan and delighted to see his zoo and theme park so well-used. It was well known Michael loved Disneyland and was happy to have his own version. For a number of years he could have tea parties with Liz Taylor where he could practiced his Marilyn voice and ask Liz frequent questions about the brutality of working as a contact player for MGM in the forties.

An infamous image of Michael protesting his innocence of misdeeds on national television in 1994. The make up, eye brows and wig-like straw hair are the most criminal charges laid at Michael’s door by this point in time

Yet Michael was the kid of all kids, so he seemed appropriate for him to have kids. A drug addict with a growing pendant for looking after other people’s children, this wasn’t necessarily a wise move at the time. Technically though, Michael wanted playmates 24-7 and it added great legitimacy to his cause to have children of his own, if he were going to babysit other people’s kids for free. This turned out to be the best way for Michael to tie up his unhappy childhood; to organically have a second with his own kids. It will divide many whether Michael’s relationship with children was loving or lecherous. I’ll leave it to you to decide…

It doesn’t really need a caption, does it?

Michael’s life had a great brevity of problems. His last batch included the fact that he had stopped taking a rational approach to money matters, probably thinking of his personal fortune as monopoly money. He also had an addiction to painkillers, and would frequently change both his religion and his home address which left his life a little crazy.

Hearing over the recent case, about whether Michael’s doctor killed him, the real question is actually whether Michael would have lived much longer had he survived. One thing for sure, his legacy has survived. The article, I referenced commenting on his bizarre surgery has some of the most brilliant comments. The best two of which I’ve posted below:

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Im disgusted!! Especially at the Michael Jackson one. He did not i repeat not 4 the foolish and thick change his skin tone it isnt possible he DOES have Vitiligo and many people get it i have seen pictures of him without his makeup on and HE DOES have Vitiligo. Why would
he want 2 be white anyway!!!Especially as he released a song “Black or White’ It is the prejudice people like u who have the problem.
And the child Molestion case they never had any rel evidence 2 support it plus they have phonecalls of the boyts father distinctly saying “If all goes well we can ruin him and we’ll get millions out of it’ I know my Michael Stuff so maybe u beter get some facts right before u make assumptions!!!
Plus do not compare him with ‘Tranvestites” He is truelly the king of pop and wants 2 change the world but there are ppl like U who are 2 blinded by there own crap coming out of your mouths!!2 begin 2 see that Leave him alone!! He gets enough from the tabloids what are u destined 2 kill him off with your hate!!! thankyou 4 reading my email

Hi,
I saw you Michael Jackson face page. I think you are sick and a complete jerk. Your site should shut down because you have no idea what its like to be him. I’m sorry that you fell for all that media Bull but thats your problem, while you worried about all that crap THAT ISNT true you miss some really good music. First of all who are you to say that?? How do you think it feels to be him? He was born a VERY talented African American child who worked his ass off since he was 4. He was born with an incredible voice but the dumb press said that he got shots to sound more famine. Then he was diagnosed with a disease that made him turn white….. he did not get surgery to turn white, however he did get his nose fixed but what would he look like if he didn’t? have you ever saw a white man with a black man’s nose? that’d look a little funny especially if your internationally known, so maybe you should shut down your site because about 20 million of his fans got the link to your dumb site that was a complete waste of time. Because you and you mini brain who believes star magazine should be shut off the Internet. So i suggest you shut it down! and until you don’t you will be gettin constant emails from me and all my fellow friends who happen to be Michael fans

P.S. get a life