Thursday, 9 October 2008

Celebrity Mayfly

So another day, another update from Jade Goody's crumbling cervix. "My boys don't know I may be dead by Christmas!" screams the cover of OK magazine. "World exclusive interview" it heralds. Read on, reluctant schadenfreude enthusiasts - there's pictures! So much cynicism is up for grabs here it seems almost too much of an easy target, but it's frightening how ambient public sympathy has been so skewed by her illness. There's no sneering, no disbelief, just the willingness to wave cash-for-tears at a woman most magazines were vehemently decrying as racist at only last year. Jade Goody is back, and she's steering the fame-for-fame's-sake fun bus into even murkier territory.

Given that Goody was reportedly devastated at suspicions that her illness was a publicity stunt, she's made a characteristically brainless job of proving otherwise. Apparently her cancer is the latest product she's promoting, the latest twist in her storyline. With a career on the wane, what better plot device than a serious illness to win back audiences? It's malignant in every way - I'm not disputing the reality of her condition but it says bad things about what people are willing to do to remain in the public eye.

The flattening of the celebrity private-public divide has long been headed for fully 2D status, but this hammers the final nail in the coffin for the life-as-narrative zeitgeist. Jordan threatened years ago to give birth via live online video; the way things are going, it won't be long before Big Brother contestants will getting televised state funerals, like Diana. Though let's really give into nightmares; how long before 'Celebrity Mayfly' becomes the latest reality TV fad, the nihilistic, end-of-days denouement to the genre? In this irresistible, voyeuristic comedy of manners we see fame-hungry larvae gurgle from the loins of star-struck lovers before living their entire lives on screen - for one day only. Only one celebri-fly will be resuscitated so it's a race against time for each to engage the audience in their personal tale. Jade thought she was up against it with race hate, these guys have only 24 hours to devise a capitvating storyline that will keep the other column-inch zygotes at bay. How will our contenders utilise the PR arsenal at their disposal, picking carefully from 'challenge rounds' comprising such mainstays drug problems, genetic revelations and anal endoscopies. Like a game of Risk with more nudity and less geographical awareness, this will be family viewing designed for long winter Sundays, the moral tale of choice once BBC's supply of Dickens has run out. Whatever happens to Jade Goody, one can only hope her sons remain oblivious to the breed of fame she spawned.