2013 has seen the official birth of the media hate figure, and like selfies and the norovirus (the former abundant in egotism, the latter infested with germs), they are absolutely everywhere.
They are on your television, on your radio, in your newspaper and your magazines. They are the ones who jumped the queue to fame, the ones who took Andy Warhol’s “fifteen minutes” and chose to haggle for an extra thirty seconds. They are the ones who are willing to face hostility and belligerence from British public at whatever cost, all for the sake of that brief, unique flash under the spotlight.
Like the norovirus – their vulgarity is copious. Like the selfie – well, nobody’s seen quite that much vanity seen Narcissus discovered himself.
Current Queen of the media hate figures exists in the form of Katie Hopkins, who this month riled viewers of ITV’s This Morning by declaring that she would not allow her children to play with others who had “the wrong name”. Her comments sent the British public into an indignant frenzy, with the interview reaching a staggering 11 million views on YouTube.
“I am only saying what everyone else thinks”, she said.
Samantha Brick stimulated outcry on a similar scale in 2012 after writing a piece in the Daily Mail about being hated by other women “for no other reason than my lovely looks”. The article, which stocked up 1.5 million hits on the Mail Online website, saw Ms Brick whining about the detriments of her beauty as though they were on a par with physical deformities. Almost 5000 readers took to the website to share their thoughts on Brick’s egotism with the majority labelling her “deluded” with a “forgettable face”.
But despite her narcissism it is crucial to acknowledge the true, underlying purpose of Ms Brick’s article. It is, after all, her responsibility to produce pieces which not only promote the paper she is writing for but herself as a journalist. The writing world is a dog-eat-dog industry and working for a publication like The Daily Mail means you must fight tooth and nail for your place among some of the most controversial journalists in the country. It is, therefore, the big sell which lies at the forefront of her priorities, whether she believes herself to be good looking or not.
Let us of course not forget Liz Jones, the despondently cynical shrew who confessed in a 2011 Mail article to stealing sperm from two of her partners to get herself pregnant. The purpose of the article was to warn other men about the “dirty tricks” women can play on their boyfriends or husbands (as if men need another reason to think all women are psychotic, cheers Liz).
This piece is not the first of hers to have ruffled a few feathers, but it is for this reason that she has achieved such a successful career as both a columnist and editor. Like Samantha Brick, we don’t read her work because we like or agree with her, but because we are so engrossed by what she has to say.
And yet one tumultuous bout of public animosity still isn’t adequately satisfying. These three love-to-hate figures have each scored book deals to have their tactless, brutal viewpoints bound, published and sold across the country. Katie Hopkins launched “The Class Book of Baby Names” shortly after her appearance on This Morning, which reached 10 million hits in just four days. Samantha Brick’s first memoir, “Head Over Heels in France” hit book stores in April, while Liz Jones has released three autobiographies, among other books, disclosing her personal life onto paper.
These are women who know what they are doing and will stop at nothing to get what they want, regardless of who gets hurt in the process. In spite of the backlash, they are nearly always successful. But fads never last, and as with every fad the public will get bored of you.
It’s called fifteen minutes of fame for that reason alone, and in retrospect, to waste it on cynicism is a bit damn foolish.
But who am I to judge?