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There is one phenomenon which grew in enormous leaps in the 1990s. It is the cult of celebrity. We have, so we are led to believe, developed such an insatiable appetite for news of celebrity lifestyles and royal minutiae that an entire industry has been built.
Journalists, photographers and publishers compete to find stories about these wonderful people who live wonderful lives. Often an article can be created around little more than a snap of the celebrity walking down the street.
Hello! (to give it its full title including the obligatory exclamation mark) is the pre-eminent title amongst the magazines devoted to celebrity. It places itself a distinct level up market from OK! (to give it its full title including the obligatory exclamation mark) which has a Beckhams obsession.
I personally do not like these magazines at all. I am interested in news certainly and I have more than a passing interest in popular culture. However when I watch a television programme or a sports event or listen to a CD I do not have an instant desire to see the people involved draped around the various rooms of the houses wearing different outfits. Still less do I wish to see a parade of stars arriving for some self-serving event.
But my dislike for these magazines goes beyond this. Hello! In particular annoys me. It is full of articles with titles like ‘Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice put their ballet skills to use to help less fortunate children’ and ‘Children of the famous learn to party in a good cause’ – I swear these are actual examples. The prose used in such articles is nauseating. The style is obsequious and cringing. The world these articles describe is in a different galaxy from the one we ordinary people are in. In the world of Hello there is no rail crisis, no problems in the NHS. World hunger and deprivation exists as a photo opportunity – how good that God makes most of its natural disasters strike where the sun shines.
This leads me to the crux of my problem with Hello. The magazine treats its celebrities and particularly royalty as Gods. In doing so it appears Godless and without compassion unless that compassion is recognised and revered by the readership. You are not merely told what a celebrity has done, you are invited to celebrate this miracle. I am not a supporter of the concept of royalty and Hello by the way it sycophantically depicts the Royal family only reinforces my view that they are a waste of money.
Hello presents a soft-glow rosy view of celebrity. A place to show how happy your relationship is, somewhere to quash rumours of health problems after a starlet slips to a size 6, a platform to show off the latest off-spring . For me there is no gap in my life which I feel needs to be filled by the contents of Hello. There is clearly a market for it and it has become the de rigeur reading of the social climber and the dentists waiting room.
Hello! does have a few puzzles, inevitable pages of what’s on TV, fashion which is always simply marvellous darling, lifestyle hints which seem to be what perfume to wear for which occasion or emotion. The only humour I found in it was that it had a cookery column.
Hello! is not for me. It is humourless, Godless, smarmy, unctuous and oily. I will do without ingratiating, irrelevant information about people I do not wish to know about. It is available at all good newsagents for those who do.