Friday, August 22, 2008
After my stellar, life-changing, world-transforming, gold medal-winning performance on Richard & Judy, I retired to the Green Room. Ricky Gervais, Amanda Ross, the producer and brilliant manager of the R & J Book Club, Richard, Judy and assorted girls who had previously carried clipboards and worn headsets joined me. We talked of Arthur de Vany and the diet or way of life as I prefer to call it. Ricky was especially interested but apparently too devoted to carbs to be entirely enthusiastic. They all asked me detailed questions. 'I am not the expert,' I said, 'I am the evidence.' Perhaps disappointed by this, they then began to talk among themselves of various celebrities of whom I had never heard. They spoke in particular of the tribulations of their private lives. I realised suddenly how strange this is. The exposure of the private life has become an essential aspect - sometimes the only aspect - of being a celebrity. Yet these private lives are seldom especially extraordinary. Anybody's sexual history would be made to look chaotic and/or weird if exposed to public scrutiny. Perhaps celebrity heightens this a little, but, judging by the stories one hears and reads, not by much. Personally, unless there is some deep, structural reason why it is important, I am not interested in the private life. If I am interviewing somebody who is famous for being more than just famous - ie for actually having done something unusual or worthwhile - then trawling through the usual relationship nonsense seems like a waste of time and space. In this, I know I am hopelessly out of touch. And I have to acknowledge there may be some useful purpose being served by this exposure; we may be using celebrity lives as stories that reconcile us to our own failings, as, in effect, folk legends. That was how it sounded in the Green Room. People sat around the fire - sorry, canapes - and shared tales that would help them make sense of the storms and darkness outside their tiny circle.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 10:15 am