Saturday, October 13, 2012

Celebrities above Criticism

The grim revelations around Jimmy Saville are a reminder how toxic it is to place people above criticism, or to develop a culture where certain things are routinely shushed. I think back now to the TV of my teenage years, both BBC and ITV, which routinely depicted women as sex objects (Kenny Everett, Benny Hill) and maybe its not so surprising that female employees were treated the way they were.

Have we moved on? The pack instinct still seems to prevail when it comes to coverage of celebrity lifestyles. The National Treasure is above criticism (Claire Balding, Stephen Fry, Bradley Wiggins, Cheryl Cole), the Public Enemy can't do anything right (Kevin Pietersen, Simon Cowell). Others attempt to control their own narrative - one popular tweeter makes a habit of retweeting any criticism to their legions of followers, who then descend in an avalanche of abuse upon the victim. It's a clever method of vicarious bullying, and makes people think twice about saying anything negative.

All this is pretty dangerous. Whilst as a nation we tend towards cynicism, and hand out praise far too reluctantly, we also need to make sure that nobody is above criticism. Allowing a culture to develop around people which refuses to hear the truth at all costs is dangerous. It can happen within subcultures, within organisations, within a country. But all of us are a glorious ruin, sometimes the ruin is most obvious, sometimes the glory.

1 comment:

  1. As Cheryl Cole, she is a national treasure, a fragrant beauty terribly wronged by an idiot who had no regard for being married to such a gorgeous woman. As Cheryl Tweedy, though, she was for a short period a pariah. Remember the court case?