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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific