Hit & Run: The egos have landed
Tuesday 06 January 2009
'The ego," wrote Sigmund Freud, "is not a master in its own house." When scribbling these thoughts, could the father of psychoanalysis possibly have been predicting events in the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother?
After a self-imposed break, following Jade Goody's ill-judged comments, conflating a certain curry-house side-order with the name of a certain Bollywood star, "CBB" has returned to our screens with the usual heady mix of fruity presenters and bygone stars.
This year, Big Brother has cut straight to the chase of what makes the programme tick. In order to secure their first nominee for eviction, the producers entrusted Terry Christian's guppy-fish eyes to seek out which of his housemates has the biggest ego. In a house which roofs a bunch of such noted self-regarders, that would appear quite a task.
Take firebrand former socialist MP Tommy Sheridan, that well-honed self-publicist, who with all the spirit of a young William Wallace single-handedly took on the might of News of the World in the libel courts and won.
Joining Sheridan in the house is the rapper Coolio, whose contemporaries in the American music industry have taken diva-like demands to a new level. Who can forget the time when Jennifer Lopez reportedly arrived at one London hotel with suitcases in tow, demanding her suite be decked out with white lilies, white linen, and white curtains? Or Mariah Carey, who once insisted she be carried around on the set of her video after (the horror!) snapping of one of her stilettos.
There is also La Toya Jackson, whose brother Michael once insisted a room be specially built above a music studio to house his pet monkey, Bubbles. Whichever way you cut it, it seems that Terry Christian was as insightful as Freud himself when he replied: "We all have big egos – and low self-esteem. That's why we're in the business."
But does it have to be this way in Celeb land? Must ego and celebrity always skip merrily hand-in-hand through life's halls of fame?
We are told one of the biggest icons of the 20th century, Paul Newman eschewed such demands, preferring the quiet life with his wife, Joanne Woodward, and giving vast swathes of his fortune to charitable causes. Nor is there ever much fanfare in London at the arrival of George Clooney, Hollywood's leading leading man who, by all accounts, is perfectly capable of removing the brown M&Ms from the bowl himself.
No, egotism isn't rampant at the top. But on the "pay me £20,000 and I'll do it" level of fame, it's a different story. The joy of Celebrity Big Brother is its ability to strip away the surface, to relieve those who enter of the baggage they failed to leave at the door. So far, Terry Christian – like the rest of us – has little evidence on which to base his judgement of whose ego is the greatest. He named Ulrika Jonsson. Was he right? Stay tuned to find out. There's plenty of time yet to get beneath the contestants' skins. Vanessa Feltz came a cropper in 2001, when she unnervingly began scrawling random words on the dining table in a maniacal rage, followed the year after by Les Dennis, who sought solace from his crumbling marriage to Amanda Holden by privately conversing with the Big Brother House chickens. George Galloway was even reduced to behaving like a pet cat. Let the unmasking begin. Henry Deedes
Bored at work? Pull the left lever...
You get to your desk (assuming your pass still opens the door) to find a security guard waiting to escort you from the building lest you stash your flatscreen monitor alongside the kids' drawings and dusty bottle of bubbly – relics of better times. But then, in a parting act of defiance, you pull "eject" and shout "screw you!" as you rocket into the ether. Alas, the final insult: the firing mechanism has been removed from this B-52 bomber ejector seat office chair, made by US-based MotoArt (yours for $7,500). So, even if you wanted to escape, there'll be no parachute, golden or otherwise. Simon Usborne
Face to face with fraud
On Facebook, you can't believe everything you read. Take Fidel Castro's page, for instance. The picture looks about right, but this "Fidel" seems to be living in Croatia. As for "George W Bush" – well, if it's that George W Bush, then something strange has happened to the picture. And how many people called Hugo Chavez can there be?
Now, one world leader has decided to take a stand. Guyana's president Bharrat Jagdeo has asked his country's police to track down those behind a bogus Facebook page that bears his name. And here's the strange thing: it's not even a profile page, just an unofficial fansite. And what's more, this "fraudster" has attracted almost 200 supporters on Jagdeo's behalf. The real Jagdeo has issued a terse statement saying that he is not, and never has been, a member of this, or any other social networking site.
So what's his beef with Facebook? Is he missing the point? On Facebook, at least, a little light-hearted identity fraud can be a good thing. One of the hundreds of Tony Blairs on Facebook has a profile picture showing a young, snarling, wannabe politician caught with his eyes closed. Under "activities" is listed "war games", and under "favourite music" the work of Ugly Rumours, the band he fronted at university. Blair joins hundreds of bogus David Beckhams and Elvis Presleys, and dozens of people impersonating the Queen – whose religious views one wag describes simply as "I own the Church of England".
Besides, Jagdeo's impersonator was doing the opposite of ridiculing him – he was creating a fan page. Barack Obama's official Facebook fansite has 3,661,442 supporters. It hasn't done him any harm. Rob Sharp
Having your own hair is so over
Wigs are the latest crunch-busting trend. Sales of hair-pieces spiked over the festive season in Selfridges and Harrods. Could those who resent shelling out for highlights or extensions have changed their styling strategies? Why not go for a look that will never grow out, or need the roots dyed? Or buy several and change them like shoes. Forget joke-shop mullets, there are ranges by Raquel Welch and Jessica Simpson. During the Great Depression, women sold their hair: this time round, are we investing in other people's? Harriet Walker
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