The flip-side for celebrities

The Herald on Sunday has an editorial about the flip-side for celebrities.

The trouble with celebrities is that they believe their own press. Being apt to take themselves terribly seriously, they assume the rest of the world does too. Thus they confuse public curiosity – which is really just Schadenfreude in waiting – with genuine interest.

Because they get invited to first nights at the opera and restaurant openings they get the idea that their opinions about global warming or cruelty to animals are worth more than, say, those of their hairdressers.

Yes, we see this all the time with empty vessels spouting on about coal mines and Hobbit movies. Then of course there are the celebrities that seek higher office, attempting to put their face where their mouth is.

This self-regard can go to extremes. Maggie Barry is seeking the National candidacy for Botany – an idea that seems to have occurred to her after she left radio to “travel and write and do other things”.

Her ambition flourishes despite the fact that our political history is littered with the corpses of those who believed that celebrity alone equipped them for public office: Suzanne Prentice, Pam Corkery, Lisa Lewis, Ewen Gilmour. The sense of entitlement conferred by renown seems inexhaustible.

Indeed the graveyard of former media celebrities who tried to be MPs is vast, the Herald left out Brian Edwards, Chris Laidlaw, Denis Welch, and many others. Unless a deal has been done to reward Maggie Barry with some job in the new parliament then she will find out in short order that life as a back-bench MP is pretty soul destroying.

And so onto the so-called celebrity bonnet dancer who is afraid of his own name.\

It’s that sense – no doubt combined with a profound, cringing embarrassment – that presumably drives the campaign of a high-profile celeb to keep secret the awful argument with his wife during which he jumped on the bonnet of their car in central Auckland.

The so-called “household name” was given police diversion and so did not have to appear in court. His name will remain suppressed until at least February 7, and perhaps forever, depending on the court’s decision on competing arguments on that day.

Justice Minister Simon Power last year signalled his intention to make it harder to get name suppression, specifically remarking that renown alone should not be grounds for secrecy.

We couldn’t agree more: if celebrities expect, even demand, the limelight for their most trivial utterances, they need to accept it will be shed on their more idiotic behaviour as well. It would be useful, if for no other reason than to give them a sense of perspective.

Cringing is right, about the same type of cringe associated with the implausible defense of Paul Henry that he was “only Paul Henry being Paul Henry”. The pr genius who came up with that one is probably the same pr genius who advised the bonnet dancer to seek name suppression then go on holiday to the beach with the kids.

As for Simon Power‘s signalling, it seems that it was just that. A comprehensive reading of his proposed law changes shows nothing of the sort. In fact it seeks to make the penalties fro breaching name suppression far more draconian and ignores the realities of the modern age of communication. Yet another case of a politician speaking differently out of different sides of his mouth.

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