My mini-review of Marina Hyde's Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over the World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy over on The Book Depository:

It is hardly original suggesting that celebrity -- and our obsession with it -- is absurd, but Marina Hyde's excellent book also fully debunks the idea that it is harmless. Hanging our collective hopes on the do-gooding activities of entertainers is not only childish and ridiculous it is, Hyde argues, dangerous.

For sure, celebrity-worship has been around for a long time, but in our media-saturated age the easiest copy to write and publish normally involves Someone Famous doing Something (anything!). Look at any tabloid "news"paper -- news is now simply what A. N. Actor has recently got up to, however dull or tawdry. Tragically, what now passes for more substantive copy is when Someone Famous does Something for Charity. But obscenely overpaid mannequins lecturing us to cough-up our hard-earned on their personal hobby-horse is no way to solve the world's problems.

Is there anything more senseless then Sharon Stone attending the World Economic Forum or Jude Law lecturing us about the Taliban? Hyde doesn't think so. Ginger Spice may well be a goodwill ambassador, but all that shows is that even the UN has bought into our collective inanity and fawning in the face of fame.

So, what is the solution? Hyde doesn't really offer one, but the first step might be simply to laugh at the pomposity of the performing monkeys we've insanely begun to worship. Hyde's book is as good a place as any to start our much-needed celebrity detox!

Readers Comments

  1. I'm glad that the book is decent. While there are targets more deserving of a kicking and less obvious in said need, I think that Hyde is one of the Guardian's better writers. She's not as caustic as Brooker but she's a good deal more insightful and flexible in her choice of topics.

  2. Charles Beckett Thursday 09 April 2009

    Though not a regular reader of Marina Hyde's columns, I was impressed by a recent article she wrote about the exploitation of Jade Goody's death. In it, she demonstrated a forensic critique of the celebrity industry and a scathing turn of phrase - '...fake concern is the Tiger Economy of ghastly tone...'. I am looking forward to reading her full-scale analysis of the problem.

  3. this is important stuff to me, maybe living in New York City, and the States has made the celebrity thig even more noxious to me--it's so wide-spread, it's hardly noticeable, because it's as omnipresent as the air we breath and people seem to be just breathing it now without questions--

    I wasn't sure whether to vote in the election not because I was passionate about Obama but I wasn't sure my vote mattered since I was told Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey were the ones who knew everything, they and other celebrities monopolized the campaign trail ...democracy indeed

    good work. Thanks.

  4. "Hyde is one of the Guardian's better writers"

    Ahhh...time was when one would read a comment like this & automatically take it for a compliment

  5. Shocking how little coverage there's been about J.G. Ballard's death on most lit blogs. I would've thought his passing rated as a rather major event...

  6. Hm, I kind of dislike Hyde, partly for her smugness in her Lost in Showbiz column (even though it is usually amusing, as evidenced by the fact that I continue to read it) and previously the Guardian Diary which she was a regular on (and which, under her, was more or less a series of prank phone calls). Mostly though for what Private Eye would have us believe was her romantic dalliance with Piers Moron.

    However she is good on the business of celebrity and I might even flick through the book if I see it in the shops.

  7. Andrew Watson Friday 24 April 2009

    Marina Hyde is one of a number of journalists whose preoccupations seem to be dragging the quality of The Guardian down. She may be a competent writer but I suspect that her focus on the idiocy of celebrity is, in reality, an excuse to focus on celebrities. That, and the spread of fashion coverage, make large sections of the paper irrelevant.

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