Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over The World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy by Marina Hyde

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Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over The World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy by Marina Hyde

Category: Entertainment
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A look at the various parts of life on which celebrities have rather too large an impact, this is an interesting if a little disjointed read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099532057

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I have what is perhaps a regular-sized interest in A and B-list celebrities. I can name the off-spring of many an actress, tell you who the spokespeople for certain brands are, write a list of celebs with publicly declared devotions to certain religions, even win the odd pub quiz thanks to knowing the birth names of various performers. I know all sorts of things about this rather small subset of society, but I know the what more than the why, and that's exactly the problem, according to this book. After all, if more of us sat down to wonder about what it actually is that the likes of Geri Halliwell and Nicole Kidman bring to the UN, we might seriously question how and why they ever got involved in the first place.

The book takes various different areas of their lives – from their charity work to their religions – and dissects the current, bizarre world of celebrity. While I enjoyed reading it, I thought it was a bit disjointed at times, with the chapters quite unconnected to one another. Sections on terrorism and politics nestle in beside others on parenting and pet ownership, and yet the potential impact of celebrity involvement in the former is considerably scarier than their involvement in the latter. It read like lots of distinct essays or monologues, perhaps something that would have worked better as a series of newspaper columns than as a complete book. That said, the pages on Scientology and Kabbalah were enlightening, and not in the way those religions would usually try to be. While I was familiar with them on a general basis, and knew which big names associated with each, some of the additional background was new to me and quite intriguing.

I felt the book just couldn't decide what it wanted to be – a thought-provoking, in depth look at the sad state of celebrity affairs (and divorces, religions, parenting styles…) or an entirely tongue in cheek look at this alien world, complete with unfailingly witty banter to have you rolling your eyes in agreement, and disgust.

What is the one group of people who are unlikely to ever read such a book? The very celebrities who feature in it. And they, of course, are the ones who could do with reading it the most. For the rest of us, this is the sort of book you're only likely to read if you agree, at least to some degree, with what the author is saying. Perhaps you're not as vocal about it as she is, and perhaps you do still enjoy reading the trashy mags she slays so brutally, but chances are you're leaning the same way she is on the issues that really matter. It's the type of read that will have you nodding along in agreement rather than getting angry and wanting to argue back – because the one thing I kept thinking when reading through was that whether the behaviours presented are right or wrong, they are certainly true accounts of things that have happened, and as such you cannot argue with them.

This is undoubtedly a book that will make you laugh, but it's more a wry chuckle than a bellowing guffaw, and at times you might not know whether to laugh or cry, so worrying are some of the examples offered up. The footnotes on various pages were some of the most amusing bits of the book, and I began to look forward to these eagerly as I turned each page.

The author's personality and her emotional state while writing the book shine clearly through on every page. She has a cutting tongue and talks with evident disdain about her subjects, peppering it all with a good old dose of British sarcasm. This may be lost on American readers and yet in other ways the book seems quite Americanised, though this may just be down to the fact that they have spawned the 'worst' celebrities currently doing the rounds.

While I did feel Hyde had cherry picked the most extreme examples to illustrate her points, I got the sense that unlike the magazine editors she lays into in the penultimate chapter, she hadn't resorted to making things up, and while she may have used some less than typical anecdotes, they were at least things that have actually happened.

This book is very 'of the moment' – it would have been much less relevant 1ten years ago (and she'd have had much less ammunition too, I think, though the fact that it is a relatively recent explosion of absurdity isn't really addressed). At the same time, we can imagine that whatever the state of the celebrity world is a decade from now, it too will be sufficiently different from the picture she paints of the here and now.

I did think it was an interesting book, and amusing in parts, but overall I thought it was a just OK read that could have been better.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending us this book.

If you want to balance out the opinions of this book, Piers Morgan's work The Insider gives you a look from the 'other side'.

Buy Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over The World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy by Marina Hyde at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over The World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy by Marina Hyde at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over The World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy by Marina Hyde at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over The World and Why We Need an Exit Strategy by Marina Hyde at Amazon.com.


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