Role model or not, it would be a shame if Tulisa was brought down by The Sun's 'cocaine' sting

The Sun on Sunday's sting isn't the cause of Tulisa's press vilification. She's a successful, outspoken working class girl done good and they hate her for it

Share

In the wake of the Sun on Sunday’s front page splash: “Tulisa’s Cocaine Deal Shame” , the pop star and former X Factor judge may be regretting the line in her autobiography, Honest, in which she offers herself up as an “inspiration for broken Britain”. A squeaky clean role model she is not, but her story is certainly instructive. If this scandal is allowed to end her career, it will offer her fans a depressing lesson on the limits of social mobility.

Such stories don’t always spell PR disaster. Two years after a Mirror front page appeared to show model Kate Moss, snorting lines of white powder The Evening Standard reported that the model’s earnings had doubled. Last month, the well-connected It girl Cara Delevigne was photographed attempting to conceal a bag of mysterious white powder that fell out of her handbag. At time of writing, she has not lost any of her lucrative contracts. Will 24-year-old Tulisa be as lucky?

Unlikely. Though the Sun’s outrage might have you fooled, in fact drug use is a morally neutral subject in the British press. It’s the identity of those concerned that dictates the tone. When aristocratic models are involved, it’s glamorous; when powerful politicians are, it’s youthful folly, and when anyone else is, it’s a serious criminal offence. Working-class-girl-done-good Tulisa belongs to a group which the press takes particular relish in taking down a peg.

If you don’t follow celebrity news with the same dedication as Tulisa Contostavlos’s fan base does, you’d be forgiven for feeling that her fall from grace is only the deserved consequence of some very foolish behaviour. Maybe. But note, too, that this successful sting isn’t where her press vilification started. Rather, it’s the culmination of a stream of negative press focusing on her working-class background. In one spectacularly snobby recent article entitled “Queen of the chavs”, Tulisa is taken to task for wearing too much make up, enjoying £2.50 manicures and her “cheap bikini and even cheaper tattoos.” 

They disapprove of her because she’s brash and unapologetic, but it’s for exactly that reason that Tulisa is worth having in the public eye. Not only is she one of the few successful and visible women from a working-class background, but she refuses to either submit to the required Pygmalion makeover or retreat into demure silence. The sex-tape scandal that threatened to derail her success on The X Factor a few years back was a wearily familiar attempt at slut-shaming. Her outspoken YouTube rebuke was a refreshing proof that young women don’t have to collude with that sexist nonsense. 

The criminal justice system will decide whether Tulisa is guilty of any drug-related offence; but that outcome is immaterial to a press that already has her bang to rights over a much more heinous “crime”; not knowing her place and not apologising enough for rising above it.  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
Rebekah Brooks after her acquittal at the Old Bailey in June  

Rebekah Brooks to return? We all get those new-job jitters

John Mullin
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future