The Eye magazine (Huddersfield) May 2013 – Celebrity culture

Whoopi Goldberg at the launch of 'Book' 1998

Celebrities are just like you and me. They eat, sleep and perform all the usual bodily functions you’d expect from an average human being. They fall in love, get married – sometimes more than once – have kids and eventually shuffle off this mortal coil.

And yet, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had total strangers come up to me and try to grab hold of me while their friend takes a picture on their camera phone. When I leave the house, there are no paparazzi at my gate. No one has ever posed as a hospital orderly to get hold of my medical records.

When I worked in publishing, I handled the PR for a variety of celebrities, from sports personalities and politicians to TV presenters and A list actors. One thing that always shocked me was how many members of the public seem to presume that celebrities are deaf. They stand right next to them and make the most personal comments, as if the celebrity couldn’t hear a thing.

When the phone hacking scandal broke, one frequent comment was that the celebrities had put themselves up as targets – it was the ordinary members of the public who deserved better treatment. But surely if we expect celebrities to be prosecuted when they behave badly, we should also expect them to receive the same fair legal redress if someone hacks their phone or commits any other crime against them. And is it ever fair to harass a celebrities family or those working for them?

Some years ago, a friend of mine who is an actor left a long-running role in a soap and had a period without work, during which he eventually had to claim benefits.  Standing in line at the dole office (as it was then), he was recognised by a member of the public, who immediately came over to express their surprise that he might be signing on. How much easier it would have been for him that day to be an anonymous person, rather than someone who happened to love acting and as a result had become a familiar face.

Whoopi Goldberg – I organised her book publicity tour and launch and accompanied her to interviews in March 1998.

 

Whoopi Goldberg at the launch of ‘Book’ 1998

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