Wednesday, 21 April 2010

not yours to tell

how would it feel to have someone write all about your life, especially if you didn't want them to? and talk to your friends, family members, work colleagues and other people you have interacted with, some of whom will be loyal to you and refuse to get involved, others who won't. for the ones who talk, knowing you don't want them to, it must be an awful feeling of betrayal.

we live in an age and a society where price of being a celebrity means that every little bit of your life and your appearance get picked to pieces. there is very, very little that is allowed to be private. the more successful you are, the more there are people out there anxious to dig a little dirt. because it will sell, and some people love to see other successful people brought down.

as you may guess, i'm not a fan of celebrity culture. i don't buy gossip mags, i refuse to watch shows like entertainment tonight, i tend to avoid conversations that focus on which celebrity split up with who, or did what silly thing. it's not my business, it's generally not important (unless there's some actual level of criminality involved, in which case there may be a genuine public interest), and i basically don't want to know.

given all of that, i really am not a fan of unauthorised biographies. at least not for entertainment celebrities. it's not so bad if it's a historical figure or political leader, particularly one who has caused significant harm. in that case, there is some importance in learning about the person's motivations, the influences on their lives, their childhood experiences. and an unflattering portrait is not likely to cause harm to such a person, when they aren't well thought of anyway.

and i could accept unauthorised biographies of political leaders where they bring to light important information that is of a whistleblowing nature - making us aware of unacceptable connections or behaviour.

but even then, i think even the worst people have some right to privacy, some areas which they should not have to share with the rest of the world. and where the revelations are for entertainment purposes only, ie they have no public interest value, then i think they shouldn't be made public without the express consent of the person involved.

the problem of course is how to police such a thing. i don't think it would be useful to have any laws to regulate such a thing. and with the viral nature of electronic communications and the internet, it's almost impossible to keep things from becoming public. there's the whole free speech argument, and i'd agree that any kind of suppression in this area has the potential for significant harm.

of course i want none of that. for me, it's a matter of self-policing. i'm not going to spend my money on unauthorised biographies, i'm not going to be involved in activities that pry unfairly into another person's life. because i would hate for such a thing to happen to me. i would hate for my personal stories to be broadcast to all the world, and especially by someone who was unsympathetic to me.

so why would i want to participate in something that, even in the smallest way, does that very thing to someone else?


Bea said...

I was thinking about this in relation to a blog interview with Anika Moa. She said that she felt she was tricked by a journalist who wrote a very sensationalised article about Anika's wedding. In the article Ladyhawke was outed without her permission.

The journalist involved retaliated on the blog.

It's an interesting interview and discussion - the journo said nothing was off the record but it sounds like Anika didn't think the whole article would be about the fact that she's a lesbian.

Here's the blog post

Here's the article it was concerning

It's sad that there are so few articles about Anika Moa's music. Almost every article focuses on her sexuality. I guess now that Ladyhawke has been outed the Mainstream Media will focus on her sexuality instead of her music too.

stargazer said...

thanx for the comment and the links bea. i think the excuse by journalists that anyone who seeks success in a career that requires publicity doesn't deserve any privacy at all, is just a load of crap. dishing out the nasty stuff in the worst possible light certainly makes a lot of money for the publications that do, but for them to justify it as anything but making money at someone else's expense seems to be just a way of avoiding the taking of responsibility for their own actions.