Monday, April 20, 2015

Infamy is The Spur

So, what do you do if you want to be famous, a celebrity of sorts, with all the (mainly monetary) benefits it brings, but you have no actual talent for anything?  Not even sufficient talent to make any headway on the X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent or The Voice?  Obviously, you have to find some way of playing to the only strengths you have, even if they wouldn't usually constitute a 'talent'.  If that strength is not caring what anybody thinks of you, thereby enabling you to say anything, regardless of how offensive it might be to the vast majority of people, regardless of whether it is even a well thought out position, then you sign up to Twitter and start saying offensive and 'controversial' things to high profile celebrities, knowing that these will be picked up by the media, resulting in appearances on daytime TV shows and lots of column inches devoted to you in the press.  With luck, this will then translate itself into a newspaper column of your own, maybe a radio slot on some right wing talk station and perhaps, if you are really lucky, a TV show on one of the digital channels.

Roughly following this path certainly seems to have worked for this Katie Hopkins person.  Sorry, if I sound like one of those mythical out-of-touch High Court judges who never know who any pop culture figures are, but I'm afraid that, until recently, she'd flown under my radar.  Whilst vaguely aware of her as some kind internet troll, I eventually had to have exactly who she was and why anyone cared what she said, explained to me. Actually, whilst I now know that she is a failed contestant on The Apprentice (something I never watch), I'm still at a loss as to why anyone seems to care what she says.  However, she seems to have stirred up a lot of hatred with her idiotic description, in her tabloid column, of African refugees as cockroaches.  Yes, it is offensive.  But surely what is more offensive is that this and her other, similar, utterances aren't really the result of any strongly held (but criminally misguided) belief system, but rather have been carefully calculated to generate as much publicity for Hopkins as possible.  Real bigots and racists are at least spitting their bile from a clear ideological position - we might not agree with their beliefs, but we can at least understand their motivation.  Often their misguided views are a result of a misreading of the poor economic and political situations they find themselves in - blaming the most visible, but usually least culpable - targets for their predicament.  Once again, we can at least understand their bigotry.  But in Hopkins' case, her outpourings have no ideological or socio-economic underpinning, they are designed purely to create and enhance her 'brand', which she can then market for her own financial gain.  Bigotry for cash - now that's offensive.



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