Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Katie Price's celebrity craving comes at too high a price

Jordan, now known as Katie Price, has always been a trailblazer.

Before I interviewed her a few years ago I was informed by various peers that she was really a genius, the best businesswoman in Britain. I was dubious, having just watched her struggle with the concept of a rhetorical question on her reality show ('Is the sky blue - is that one?' she'd asked a weary Peter Andre, who'd stopped laughing at her funny ways by then and could only bite his trembling lip in response).

When I finally spoke to her I did indeed find her unique - not in her genius, but in her total lack of a sense of self. She was like a character in a video game, mechanical and stoic. She spoke about her pride in her achievements like a sedated, bored parrot.

Those who know Katie say she finds it hard to function on her own. They appear to mean this literally. It's not just being single she struggles with - hence her new (third) headline-storming marriage to builder/stripper Kieran Hayler after a six week romance which itself seems to have been a panic move after her last fiancé moved out - but any kind of solitude.

Her reality show saw her constantly fill her home with friends, relatives and employees. She sat among them, relieved to be distracted by frothy chatter. She seemed afraid of stillness, perhaps in case it forced moments of reflection. If you've sold your soul to the devil, quiet contemplation is the last thing you need.

Dostoevsky once suggested that privacy was for the bourgeois, a rare, privileged state which ordinary people, the constant source of whispery gossip, couldn't buy. Now its opposite - celebrity - is the most coveted state. This, I feel, can't go well. Privacy, with periods of absolute aloneness, is necessary for individual contentment and psychological stability.

Sane, balanced individuals are essential for a functioning, progressive society. As the great novelist Don DeLillo once put it, 'It's what no one knows about you that allows you to know yourself.'

Katie might agree with Don. Her well of self-knowledge has less depth than a Botoxed wrinkle and that's how she likes it. Like the increasing number of passionate strivers who follow her example - the TOWIE/Big Brother gang and their expanding ilk - she has given up any notion of a private life in order to make every aspect of her existence sellable.

She stares straight ahead, her eyes on the prize, any encroaching doubts or moral arguments bouncing off her like obstacles in an X-Box driving game. Except for her the game is fame, and if her whole life, including the serenity of her children, is to be sacrificed to win it, those are rules she appears to accept.

That's fine. As long as she's happy to be remembered as a salutary tale about the perils of surrendering to materialism and celebrity.

Perhaps simply being remembered is what she wants most. It doesn't look as if her life makes her anything but miserable and confused on a day to day basis but maybe she observes 'reclusive' Adele - a global megastar who took a year's sabbatical from public life and still hasn't revealed the name of her three-month-old son - and, despite the exuberance in the singer's shining eyes, pities her for her long absences from the headlines.

And maybe she satisfies her irksome soul with a belief that, no matter how her story ends, at least it'll make the front page.

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