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Samizdata quote of the day

“Never brush your teeth if you’re dressed in black. Don’t trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle. Always put the shower curtain inside the bath. Life is forever teaching us lessons, and here’s another that I learnt last week: it’s impossible to be mates with celebrities.”

Sathnam Sanghera

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Jerome Thomas

    Well, that rather depends on the basis of the friendship in my opinion and the values shared by both people (Celebrity and non-celebrity) in my opinion.

  • RAB

    Quite so Jerome.
    It also depends when the friendship started, pre or post celebrity.
    If pre, then it is reasonable to suppose the friendship will continue. If true friendship it was, not just aquaintance.
    I have a few friends, who, if I were to mention their names, you would instantly recognise.
    But I met them before they were famous.
    Money does tend to push people apart though.
    Fame usually brings shedloads of it, and that is a barrier that is hard to cross sometimes.
    On the other hand, there are celebrities who you know for certain, have no mates at all. Their personalities are so obnoxious that even other personalities cant bear to be in the same room with for more than fifteen minutes.
    No names no pack drill 😉

  • Jerome Thomas

    Compared to attitudes in other countries I am culturally quite familiar with such as the United States, Germany and Japan, Britain has a uniquely neurotic relationship with its celebrities which also informs the Times article from which this quote of the day derives.

    Open display of bitterness and envy toward the rich and famous which would mark one a complete loser in the United States are quite socially acceptable here. So is a high degree of Schadenfreude in seeing the privileged brought low.

    I’m not saying that such unadmirable character traits are remotely unique to Britain. They have obviously been common to every society in human history.
    Its just that their open expression receives far more social sanction here than in most other places I can think of off the top of my head.

    Perhaps Brits just rank pride a lot higher in the hierarchy of sins and Envy a lot lower.

  • Kevin B

    Jerome, I believe it was the Aussies who came up with a name for the phenomenon, ‘Tall poppy syndrome’, but I agree that the Brits are pretty good at it.

    The scavengers of the tabloid press need a constant supply of celebrities to build up then tear down. So much so, that a whole new TV genre, reality game shows, was invented just for this purpose.

    That’s not to blame the press, since the market is clearly there.

    Perhaps the US lived longer with the ‘Hollwood Celebrity as aristocracy’ attiude, but they seem to be edging towards a more cynical attitude these days.

    Personally, I’m quite happy to treat sportsman, and even entertainers, as celebrities provided they stick to their day job.

    It’s only when they start telling me how to think that my predatory instincts come to the fore.

  • llamas

    Exactly what Jerome Thomas wrote.

    I once had the occasion to spend a week literally cheek-by-jowl with a person who was, at that time, pretty famous. We spent 12 hours a day together. He wasn’t a ‘friend’ – we were both being paid to be there, and his interest in me was limited solely to what we were both there to do.

    From this close observation, I formed the opinion that ‘celebrity’, or ‘being famous’ is the most ghastly burden that anyone can have to bear, and that it warps the mind quickly.

    This poor bastard, for all his fame and wealth, literally didn’t have a minute to call his own. Whatever he did, wherever he turned, there were people lined up trying to get a piece of him – his time, his attention, his money, his connections. He (literally) couldn’t go to the bathroom alone. And most of them – apart from the pure fans, who just wanted to see, speak with and touch him – were looking to make a buck, somehow or other, on his coat tails.

    He was on wife #2 when I knew him, he had already ditched his pre-fame wife. He ditched #2 shortly after I knew him and is now on #3 – who is every-bit as famous as he is and probably more so. I suspect that people like that can only really form any sort of close relationship (however dysfunctional) with others who are similarly situated. I think it’s probably nearly-impossible to have real friends who do not move in those same circles – and if you try, I’ll bet you find out very quickly who your real friends are, and the sad truth that most people, friends or not, will try and take advantage of you, sooner or later.

    Funnily enough. the best and most-honest interactions I saw this fellow have were with people about whom there was no question why they were there. Employees, technicians, people who made no bones about the fact that they were there to make an hourly wage off him and his celebrity. They were the only people around where you knew exactly where you stood. Everyone else had an angle. And it can’t be much fun going through life forever watching for the exact way that each different person is trying to screw you.



  • Jerome Thomas

    Llama: Agreed!
    While I can totally understand the desire to be obscenely rich, I find the prospect of celebrityhood utterly offputting, at least in Britain. The whole celebrity circus is so coarse, banal and mean-spirited, so completely lacking in charm or glamour. I can’t really understand why people pursue it for its own sake, as so many do on reality shows. (Fame without the money to insulate yourself from its unpleasant consequences seems like the worst deal of all)
    Apart from the aesthetic objection, I also despise the whole thing on philosophical grounds
    As a libertarian I believe in minding my own
    business and allowing others to do the same.
    The bizarre sense of ownership people feel toward the famous, the emotional investment in how complete strangers choose to run their lives strikes me as the antithesis of libertarianism

  • RAB

    Well folks I think there’s a curtain twitching
    what they doing over there?
    Just plain gossipy nosiness gene in all of isn’t there?

    It’s called curiosity.
    Keeps us alive…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Britain has a uniquely neurotic relationship with its celebrities which also informs the Times article from which this quote of the day derives

    I am not sure it is unique, but much of what you and others say on this thread is quite right. Envy – the “tall poppy syndrome” – call it what you will, is a national vice. We Brits like to claim that our “build-them-up, knock-them-down” approach demonstrates our no-nonsense attitude and refusal to be cowed by the great, but it is anything but. It draws on an almost pathological hatred of achievement and greatness. Look at all those books about famous people these days that harp on about whether X or Y was gay, or was crooked, or had affairs, or was nasty to his or her spouse, etc.

    The other problem is that these days, with the coarsening of UK culture and the obsessions with things like football, soaps and the rest, that there is simply more of this celebrity crud around. I sense there is a bit of fatigue setting in, though. The trouble is that part of this is simply driven by rising affluence and access to information, which are both good things.