Monday, 9 May 2011

Press-gagged: The rise of the celeb super-injunction

'Thown to the lions'... Imogen Thomas

They've got millions in the bank, lavish mansions, invitations to the hottest parties in town and walk-in wardrobes stuffed with designer clothes. They drive Aston Martins, spend their summers holidaying on super yachts and jet first class all over the world. There's nothing the rich and famous can't buy. Including, it seems, justice.

If the latest spate of super-injunctions are anything to go by, the rich and powerful have now become untouchable. An elite few who can afford to hire in top lawyers to do their dirty work for them; and cover up their even dirtier secrets. 

These gagging orders prevent the media from publishing a story about a celeb's private life, even stopping them from reporting the fact an injunction has been taken out. The result? A relieved celeb, a frustrated editor and a clear violation of free speech. 

Exposed... John Terry had his super-injunction lifted

The UK's privacy laws may state that everyone is entitled to a private and family life. But doesn't it also state the right to freedom of expression? Celebs and the super-rich are more than happy to grace the front pages when it suits them and when there's a product to plug, but they also need to accept that the media is a double-edged sword. With the smooth must come the rough. And the more famous they are, the more determined the editors will be to expose them if they behave badly.

The problem with the modern celebrity is they want their cake and eat it. But there's quite a few slices in that cake and some will undoubtably taste nasty. After all, they live lives of luxury and bankroll the kind of cash most of us could only ever dream of. And if the public is paying their monster mortgage by buying tickets to their concerts or football matches, their books, their music, their annual calendar, their fashion line and their eau de toilette, aren't they entitled to know their favourite celeb is actually a bit of a dirty dog? I think so. It is in the public interest. 

Journo Andrew Marr's super-injunction caused outrage
But what's most concerning is the fact the rich and powerful seem to be above the law. For years, singers and film stars have been given lenient sentences or poxy fines for serious crimes and misdemeanors. Footballers appearing in court for drink driving their supercars are given nothing more than a £500 fine and a slap on the wrist and George Michael's recent drug driving debacle resulted in a eight week sentence; only four of which were actually served behind bars. 

Not to mention the celebs who can't enter a club without their nosebags full of coke - which they make no attempt to conceal, yet it always goes seemingly unnoticed by the police patrolling nearby. 

But what about the vast majority who can't afford to buy anonymity? If an average Joe commits a crime, they have to put up with the crap that comes with it - including being plastered over the front pages of newspapers before they've even been convicted of any wrongdoing. And poor Imogen Thomas, recently revealed to have had an affair with a married footballer, has, in her words, been 'thrown to the lions' while her cowardly ex-lover enjoys anonymity simply because he can afford to pay for it. Why should she be labelled a trollop while he sits smugly at home with his poor, unsuspecting wife?

Grin and bear it... Wayne and Coleen rode out the media storm
For a country with a supposedly fair 'justice' system, this is a disgrace. No one should be above the law. As the age-old saying goes: you've made your bed and you can lie in it. And if the rich and famous don't want their reputations dragged through the mud, they really should learn to keep their pants on.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The hen don't

Queen of tack... Katie price at her hen do
Over the past week I've come to a conclusion. There's only one thing worse than a bridezilla and that's an over-zealous hen party organiser.

As the dreaded wedding season creeps ever-closer I've found myself physically unable to escape from the evil clutches of the Hen Do Nazis. Every one of my inboxes has been spammed with countless messages demanding payment for overpriced meals, inflatable willy hats, glow-in-the-dark penis stickers and humiliating outfits I've been forced into wearing but am somehow expected to part with my hard-earned cash to buy. And that's before I've shelled out for the bride's share of the meal, accommodation, outfit and plethora of penis accessories.

If Facebook for mobile isn't constantly pinging, my hotmail account is beeping at me. When I ignore them, my texts start bleeping and, shock, horror, if I don't reply instantly I'm hit by hostile messages across every possible medium. As time passes, the endless demands on my time and money have spiralled out of control until I'm left broke, pissed off and feeling as deflated as the inflatable willy three months after the event.

The dreaded inflatable willy
Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing I love more than a good hen do and I want to see my friends out of singledom with style. However, there's a hen do etiquette and it certainly doesn't include Facebook stalking, behaving like a certain Fascist dictator or expecting groups of self-respecting women to wear penises on their heads in a public place.

It's like being targeted by the school bully all over again, although this time they're not stealing my 80p dinner money, but asking me to hand over £500 for the designer penis-shaped yacht trip. I still feel like I've been robbed.

This kind of 'forced fun' feels more like attending an army boot camp. Operated with military precision and to a non-negotiable timetable, the hens are left terrified of stepping out of line without fear of reprisal for even the smallest of crimes. And if a brave chick dares to stand up to the authorities, her pleas are ignored - or she's cruelly exposed to the remainder of the party as a 'tight arse.' 

The Hen Do Nazi is a particular breed of woman. No-nonsense, strict and efficient, her sole mission is to ensure maximum fun for her best friend/sister/cousin - at the expense of all the other poor hens forced along for the ride. Often wealthy, she is unable to empathise with other hens' desperate pleas to keep the costs down. And she has a unique talent of making attendees feel guilty for complaining about any aspect of her organisational skills. She's also an obsessive photo-taker - leading to hours of frenzied de-tagging on Facebook the day after the event. 

But despite psyching myself up for another summer spent embroiled in hated hen do politics, I've also made a promise to myself to grin, bear it and and have a good time.

After all, something's got to make up for all those credit card bills on the doormat...