Saturday, November 17, 2007

Living the dream?

Good or damaged goods, they just won't go away.

I wonder if this is what she wanted. It's been two years since she became the self-appointed spokeswoman for the generation of wannabe-celebs-for-the-sake-of-it desperados. She literally exploded onto our TV screens in a flurry of "Oh My Gawd!" and never ending blonde hair, becoming a gossip mag favourite ever since. Chantelle Preston (nee Houghton) was the unlikely winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2006. Not a celebrity herself on entering the house, with the assistance of Max Clifford she had to pretend that she was a member of imaginary girl-band Kandy Floss and fool the other celebrity housemates (including Pete Burns, George Galloway, Jodie Marsh and singer Preston from The Ordinary Boys, who she later went on to marry) that she was one of them.

A healthy, happy-go-lucky Essex-girl, her 'career' went from strength to strength soon after. In succession, she harvested a publishing deal for a biography, her own TV programme (both entitled 'Chantelle: Living the Dream') and also a regular column for monthly gossip rag Closer. Meanwhile, six months was all Chantelle and Preston's marriage lasted. Their separation was announced in a flood of publicity and 'are they or aren't they together?' headlines.
Clearly a trying time for any person, celeb magazines went on to pummel down our throats shocking photos of Chantelle looking emaciated and skeletal while doing her shopping, scandalising her close friendship with ex-anorexic and BB '07 housemate Nikki Grahame and henceforth hinting on Bulimia and vomiting sessions.
It seems that these days of Celebmania, no matter if you're a successful star or one who's hit rock bottom, you'll snatch headlines and front pages (even more so for the latter. Take Amy Winehouse for example). A recent issue of More! magazine quite pathetically cheated their readers by marketing their Chantelle 'rock bottom' story as an exclusive. You would expect to read first hand accounts off the disgraced celebrity herself or her closest pals. Instead, this was simply a rehash of read-it-all-before comments from 'friends' of hers ("She's my friend and I love her but she really needs to sort her life out, innit...") and photos that had been printed numerous times beforehand, ad nauseam.

The Venus De Milo of Z-list 'celebrity' Kerry "Mum's-gone-to-Iceland" Katona is another fine example of 15-minutes-of-fame gone claustrophobically wrong. The one time Atomic Kitten singer was once the darling of the non-entity magazines. She married vacuum-packed good boy Bryan McFadden, spawned two kids and was all the time praised for coming through her care home background to find happiness and success. Instantly, she turned into the evil smoking-whilst-pregnant-coke-snorting-Warrington-Chav-divorcee. She married again, amongst more revelations, this time that her new husband was once a drug-dealer. Next, she was held a knifepoint whilst her house was burgled and, overnight, brave Kerry was hurled back on the gossip-mag circus and handed her own column in OK! magazine. No week goes by without a 'shocking- exclusive' feature about her.

When you have nothing to offer the general public, no talent, no skills other than marrying another talentless Z-list celebrities and taking the odd decent photo, the press that nurtured you at first will slowly, painfully devour you at the first signs of distress. When you're no longer part of The Golden Couple or the sweet, slightly simple girl-next-door image wears off, the flap simply opens up to darker, more malicious types of publicity that have potentially destructive effects. How else are the hordes of those vacant, shallow magazines supposed to survive otherwise?

Is turning into one of these self-induced wrecks really living the dream?

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