Rihanna – Anti review

Superstar divas Rihanna and Beyoncé were playing a very public game of who could be the most provocative temptress, and still get their songs played on the radio, for the a good few years. That’s the way it seemed at least, what with all the flesh on display in their music videos and other controversial moments, all of which prompted tea-sipping elitists and defends-of-taste to decrying them both.

By now, most us are familiar with the Barbadian queen and her rumpy-pumpy reggae and steamy pop. She’s gone from an innocent island girl (‘SOS’) to a whip-loving dominatrix (‘S&M’). Anti is her eighth album, and sees the pop star crossover to the trap and alternative R&B sounds of the moment. Continue reading

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo review

Nowadays, Kanye the celebrity is far more of the focus than Kanye the musician. “I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create”, West tweeted on September 14, 2016. That may be the entertainment tweet of the year. For real. But this, nor West’s bizarre fashion line can change the fact that his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, is a muddled affair that lacks real direction. Continue reading

Beyoncé – Lemonade review

Beyonce - Lemonade promo 01 (940x469)Away from the visual accompaniments and release hype, Beyoncé Knowles’s sixth album, Lemonade, represents a tipping pointing for the megastar: this isn’t pop music for clubbers and beach dwellers; its pop music coloured with the politics of the day for socially conscientious clubbers and beach dwellers. This is about protest and power, and Beyoncé wants you to know it’s personal. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Beyoncé – Formation

Beyonce - Formation_music video still 01 (951x535)So the internet’s been steaming about Beyonce’s new song ‘Formation’, and its accompanying music video this week.

This “black consciousness” anthem is seemingly a direct response to the racial tension that has flared monstrously across the United States in the last two years. Continue reading

In memoriam: Leonard Nimoy

Mr Spock, Leonard Nimoy, Mar 16, 2010, by Pineapples101 (1331x749)Leonard Nimoy inspired so many generations with his defining role as Mr Spock from in original 1960s series of Star Trek. That’s where I saw him for the first time; sitting on my sofa, as my father, my brother and I absorbed the adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise. Continue reading

Death Fest on the Southbank

Day of the Dead skulls by Nick ThompsonThree thousand years on from our ancient ancestors, we’re still no better than they were when it comes to death. The one thing we all have in common continues to enthral and terrify, mystify and sadden. This weekend, the Southbank Centre held a Festival for the Living, an unorthodox menu of talks, performances and entertainment all about life’s ultimate destination. Continue reading

What would you give to become a celebrity?

The increasing rise of celebrity culture is something that has dogged me since I awoke to the fact that media institutions, like Heat and OK magazine, are filling our minds with senseless waffle.

Having just watched Starsuckers, a documentary by Chris Atkins, on More4 that exposes our fixation on celebrities and how the media uses this for their own ends, it has reminded me of the kinds of people who want to work in the media – as well as those who feed off it.

From disgraceful stunts by PRs to fabricate news, to celebrity editors at tabloids (such as the Daily Mirror and The Sun) meeting people touting medical records on celebrities, to a Las Vegas-based couple grooming their son into a manufactured star by forcing him through a promotion-fest of a childhood, all of these were displayed in the documentary. It proved the, frankly, sickening lengths journalists, the paparazzi, PRs, businessman and politicians are willing to go to uphold the illusion of ‘celebrity’. By getting ordinary people to buy in to these figures, they can then have a huge influence on our actions.

But don’t think that I’ve been blind to such truths before this viewing. I’ve known for years that businesses and the media hope to exploit people by using celebrities. And this documentary, too, could be called into question, but it was pleasingly grownup enough to present alternative comments and corrections from those featured in the documentary.

For the record, I’m not against ‘icons’ as such, because we all have people and groups we look up to and don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. What is bad is children growing up with the mentality that being adored by millions, having piles of cash and poaching yourself a well known other half should be your eventual life goal. Unfortunately, the most obvious cause of this epidemic is the media. Their coverage of celebrities continues with production line efficiently, keeping the public in contact with their lives, their loves, their vices. Leaving little room for sensible thought.

Looking to the other side of the coin though, and as the documentary investigated itself, it’s not hard to make the jump from journalist or presenter to celebrity these days. This is something that doesn’t personally appeal to me. I don’t want to be alone, but I also don’t want to have thousands of people ‘following’ me. I believe, such a responsibility should only befall those with the modesty and maturity to deal with it – in the current media-driven Western world at least.

I sometimes wonder who some of my current course mates may become in future. Some of them may become PR managers. A few might go in to journalism and end up as the tabloid feature writers and celebrity reporters of tomorrow. Others might become the next generation of indie filmmakers that it’s cool to like. And a small section of them may become the next bimbo presenters, finding their natural home on the sets of Five News or E! Entertainment.

As far as my own status goes, I’m happy simply doing my job, having the respect of my family and friends, and maybe getting some unexpected appreciation from a reader from time to time. The thought of becoming another celebrity journalist scares me.

I don’t think Jeff Gerstmann, Adam Sessler or Veronica Belmont set out to become famous, but they can’t deny that their views on the world are now being listened to by a huge group of followers. So how would my views on the world and the way I write about it change if I were to become, say, the next Jeremy Clarkson, Charlie Brooker or N’Gai Croal? Right now that’s a thought almost as chilling as losing all memory of my childhood, because it’s something I’m certainly not ready for. And I hope it doesn’t come to pass.