Belfast Telegraph

Can we believe Christina's red face over leaked snaps?

By Jane Graham

Christina Aguiliera was reportedly horrified this week when a computer hacker leaked private photographs of her onto the internet, where many of her fans and, most significantly, potential new fans, could see them.

The pictures showed her almost naked, but for diamante nipple tassles, in what the tabloids call 'provocative poses'. Good grief, the affronted Christina must have said when she saw the very sexy and controversy-courting snaps online: however in the world did those get splashed around the world in a matter of moments?

I could reassure Christina that fortunately, even though these are just private photos, she is holding herself like a supermodel in them, and there is not even a hint of an eye bag or a double chin. But could that make up for the invasive rush of publicity she has had to deal with?

It's been a tough time for Aguilera, who has also recently had to fight off headline-grabbing rumours of lesbian affairs and a highly controversial appearance on Saturday's X Factor which saw her lap-dancing inspired routine provoke over 2000 complaints. All this in the week that her new film, Burlesque, was critically mauled all over the world - these tawdry news stories must really hurt.

There are cynics, of course who believe that this series of events is not coincidence but part of an orchestrated campaign to fire up the flagging career of the Dirty singer in the simplest and most effective way possible - with lesbianism, table dancing and nipple tassles. You can see why folk might say such things.

The truth is, Aguilera is part of an industry which now operates on a completely different level of reality to that of ... um, actual reality. Showbiz has always liked its smoke and mirrors but these days you're talking wholesale fakery and deceit. Which almost everyone in the business - performers, agents, managers, PRs, TV producers and journalists - buys into without a moment's hesitation.

We're not just talking 'Oh dear, where did those soft-porn images of me pop up from?' but 'Goodness, who knew that breast-feeding would help me lose five inches from my waist AND dramatically inflate my boobs!'

It's not just celebrity family men whom everyone knows are having a string of affairs, or celebrated bachelor boys whose boyfriends' names are resting in newspaper filing cabinets - in this age of the sound-bite and super-injunction, photo-shopping and airbrushing, auto-tuning and fake 'co-writing' (when professional composers are paid to share song-writing credits with big names seeking credibility), the lie is king.

No one knows, or cares, what the truth of an artist's life is - all that matters is what can be spun out of the raw material. The entertainment industry still appreciates great singers, actors and writers, but it values budding Rumpelstiltskins most of all.

Which isn't to say the odd truth-teller doesn't escape the PR grasp - and interestingly, when they do, the public embrace them with huge affection. Whether it's the savage frankness of Shaun Ryder or the unrehearsed spontaneity of Stacey Solomon, ordinary people know an outbreak of uncontrived reality when they see one, and they respond accordingly.

Which makes you wonder if the industry bigwigs are less concerned even with success than they are with power and control. He might have made a terrible pact with the devil but, by today's standards, guitarist Robert Johnson had it easy. He didn't have to give up his soul until he died.

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