Wednesday 22 September 2010
Julie Burchill: Amis and Jordan – a marriage made only in his overheated imagination
I blame Arthur Miller for the silly spectacles these speccy swots make of themselves with any goddess going
Martin Amis and Katie Price have much in common. Both are famous for their shag-happy pasts – though Katie is only a modest 3x2 breeder and Mart a majestic 5x3, which if he was a woman would mark him out as a tramp, but as he's a man means he's a stud. Or something.
Then there's their love of cosmetic enhancement (her tits, his teeth), their habit of going where the money is (her numerous merchandising opportunities, his dumping of his agent of more than 20 years in favour of Andrew "The Jackal" Wylie) and their mostly unreadable books. Though definitely not unread, in the case of Miss Price, who is currently one of this country's best-selling authors.
Another difference between them is that whereas Katie has probably never heard of Martin, Martin seems to spend quite a lot of time thinking and talking about Katie – and even writing about her. Last year at the Hay Festival, Amis revealed that he had '"honoured" The Author Formerly Known As Jordan "with a character bearing some of her traits in a forthcoming novella to be called State Of England". (If it was possible to have written that title in a font called Predictable Grande, how I would have!) Amis went on to "explain" that though the character Threnody "isn't based on" Jordan, readers should "bear in mind" the feisty icon when they read the book. Oooh, SOMEONE'S been getting pre-match legal advice! Still, the old devil couldn't keep a civil tongue for long, and ended up bitching: "She has no waist, no arse... an interesting face... but all we are really worshipping is two bags of silicone." Miaow!
In this very paper David Lister called him "a real fool... in turning his critique of celebrity publishing into a personal attack on a woman's physical attributes in language that would have seemed chauvinist 40 years ago, let alone now, he has shown his true colours". While Janet Street Porter summed him up as being "reduced to slagging off a woman who will never have read one of his own books, or even have heard of him, in order to drum up interest and grab a few headlines for his next opus." Ouch!
It's a pretty sure bet that Martin won't be turning up in any of Jordan's novels soon, seeing as how she likes her heroes tall and fit, with their own teeth. But he can't step away from the siren, and just keeps digging deeper. This year, he added: "I think it is slightly depressing that Jordan's autobiography is a best seller and people queue for five hours to meet her." Well, Mart, no one FORCED you! And now, in a classic kiss-chase come-get-me ploy, he is huffing off to the USA, partly because of the nasty way the print media treats him, according to his publisher. I THINK that means he's miffed because Heat haven't put him on the cover yet.
This classic high/low culture-cum-ugly writer/sex symbol situ also featured recently in the Andrew O'Hagan/Angelina Jolie dust-up when he claimed that she was to play Marilyn Monroe in the film of a book he wrote and she said that she'd never heard of it. OUCH!
Talking of MM, I blame Arthur Miller for the silly spectacles these speccy swots make of themselves with any goddess going; once he'd bagged the Best of Breed, every nerd thought he too could be in like Flynn with the pin-up of his choice. Serge Gainsbourg, who cut a swathe through the beauties of France, and that cute geeky actor who hooked Christina Hendricks sorely misled the likes of Andy and Marty too. Boys – it's AMERICA, the land where dreams come true and dream girls come easy! (Maybe THAT'S why Mart's going there – to try his luck with, sorry, DECONSTRUCT Lady Gaga.) Did you hear the old joke about the Polish starlet? Went to Hollywood and slept with the writers!
I somehow can't imagine the reverse happening – Hilary Mantel claiming that Zac Efron is to star in the film version of Wolf Hall, or Germaine Greer drooling embarrassingly over beautiful boys in a purply-prosed coffee table book (oops, sorry, scratch that). But you get my drift. Because girls are brought up judged on their looks more, we learn our league earlier, and we rarely make fools of ourselves by aiming above it. I would never ever, even if I wasn't happily married, believe that any of the men I admire – Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Ronson before he dyed his hair blond, the Israeli national football squad (and reserves) – were interested in me; women just don't have that sort of Magic Mirror ("Who's the fairest of them all?") at home. And so many men, even ones with faces that surely only a blind mother could love (Chris Moyles, Chris Evans, Frankie Boyle), appear to have one, judging by the hilariously inappropriate way they assess women's appearances.
To me, one of the most interesting bits of biological research of the past few years proved that "most men find most women at least somewhat sexually attractive, whereas most women do not find most men sexually attractive at all". Wake up and smell the skinny latte, lads. See that girl you like? Don't text her, don't stalk her, don't write about her in your poxy miserablist novel and don't claim she's going to be in your film. Boys – step away from the Dream Girl. For all you'll get from her is the chance to make yourself look like seven sorts of fool.
George Michael: Pillars of pop have to commit real crimes
I love George Michael. I consider him a songwriter of massive talent, occasionally touched with genius. I met him only once, just before Wham! broke up, and a small thing he did on that occasion spoke volumes. I rocked up to interview him for The Times, to his flat in Kensington, knocked on the door - and there he stood, in a doorway that opened right on to the busy street. In a business in which even minor stars have lackeys to open doors and pour drinks ("Shall I be mother?" he twinkled over the teapot – and I STILL didn't catch on...) this was more than refreshing – it was revealing.
His crime, while foolish and certainly deserving of the short custodial sentence it received, hurt no one. So when he gets out of jail next month, how about calling off what appears to be open season on this sweet, soulful, solitary man? So many vile crimes have been committed by crooning cretins. Yet GM is pilloried far more than any wife-beating Beatle, paedophiliac ex-Stone or child-pornography-downloading member of The Who.
I suspect his real crime, in the eyes of many, is being true to himself; a complex, tormented but ultimately honest man who will have no truck with the Big Lie that families are fun and that monogamous marriage, be it straight or gay, is the ultimate goal for everyone. Never mind, George, just download some kiddie porn, sleep with a 13-year-old and beat up a woman, and you too can become a pillar of the pop establishment.
Middle age: Why do these women want a little whistle?
Maybe it's because I am happy in my marriage, but I find it impossible to worry about being "invisible", as so many media broads of middle-age appear to. If from the onset of one's teens one is ogled over, growled at and propositioned every time one goes to the corner shop for a can of Tizer – admittedly quite fun when young – it comes as a pleasant surprise finally to pass unhindered.
Maybe women who want to be leered at by strangers aren't getting any at home? It does seem to be a case of wanting one's crumpet and eating it, though; to complain about being judged on one's physical appearance – and then also to complain when that judging stops.
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