Saturday 16 December 2017

Comment: 'Expecting the pitter-patter of tiny feet? Push it out across all major social media platforms'

Donal and Sofie Skehan
Donal and Sofie Skehan
Alison Brie
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

There's a sweet moment in The Kid Stays in the Picture, an autobiographical film by legendary film producer Robert Evans, in which archive footage shows actress Ali MacGraw on a daytime TV show in 1970.

MacGraw, who was married to Evans at the time, is in an excitable mood as she sits on a couch facing the show's host. It's clear that there's something the actress wants to share but she's not sure if she can.

Eventually she gets up from the couch and crosses the studio to whisper something into the ear of the host. Whatever she says draws a smile and she is soon assured with the words: "Yes, you can say that on television".

MacGraw, it soon transpires, was expecting her first child.

Fast forward 40-odd years and the soft whisper has become an Extra! Extra! Read all about it! announcement, only it's no longer the mainstream media offering the exclusive: it's the celebrities themselves who stop all the clocks, cut off the telephones and push out their news across all major social media platforms.

Where once the press examined what looked like growing bumps and speculated until the pregnancy rumours were confirmed, we now only need to check a celebrity's Instagram page to find out if they are, indeed, expecting.

What started as a largely American trend now looks to be crossing the Atlantic. On Monday, chef Donal Skehan and his wife Sofie Larsson (above) announced that they are expecting their first child on Twitter and Instagram, along with a gushing six-and-a-half-minute video via their newsletter.

Cynics may baulk, but their unbridled excitement could soften the hardest of hearts. If you're going to make a pregnancy announcement on social media - which let's face it, has fast become the new normal - this is how it's done.

It's certainly more authentic than Cheryl Cole Fernan- (does anybody know her current surname?)'s announcement, unveiling her bump for the first time in a campaign for L'Oreal Paris and The Prince's Trust. And it's considerably less staged than Queen Beyonce's big 'reveal': a magazine cover-worthy photo of her bump by celebrity photographer Awol Erizku.

Other celebrities aren't content with just one announcement. After revealing that she's pregnant, reality TV star-turned fashion designer, Whitney Port instructed her Instagram followers to check out her blog "for a little letter from me and Timmy and for more behind the scenes of this crazy journey!" Timmy is her husband, by the way. The unborn child's agent was unavailable for comment.

Elsewhere, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley announced her pregnancy by generously showing pregnant women how to rock a bikini in the first trimester, while Glee star Matthew Morrison shared his news by releasing a video that looks and sounds like a perfume ad: "So here I stand at the precipice of an incredible adventure."

Meanwhile, the rest of us stand at the precipice of a trend that's not going to go away. Sonograms are the new wedding invites, babymoons are the new honeymoons and a 'gender-reveal party' is coming to a sitting room near you.

No, this isn't a modern liberal soiree during which the host announces that he is a non-binary centaur who identifies with the female pronoun, while a child furiously pounds a piñata in the corner. This is a party during which an expectant couple reveals the sex of their unborn child.

It's going to be a long nine months...

Tales from the casting couch

Alison Brie

While Hollywood's casting couch is no secret, those who have been victims of it rarely speak out for fear of jeopardising their careers. So respect for actress Alison Brie (above), best known for roles in Mad Men and sitcom Community, who recently revealed that she was asked to go topless when she auditioned for a small role in Entourage.

"Early in my career, I auditioned for three lines on an episode of Entourage that I had to go on in a bikini or, like, shorts and the tiniest shirt," she said.

"And they were like, 'Okay, can you take your top off now?'"

Brie's revelation will no doubt resonate with actresses everywhere, yet one wonders if it will encourage them to share their own stories. There's a sinister code of omertà around what really happens on Hollywood's casting couch, and it perpetuates a culture in which powerful men can take advantage of naive young women.

Actresses generally wait until they have a few awards trophies on their mantelpiece before they speak out. Case in point: Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren, who both waited decades before they talked about incidents that occurred when they were younger.

As for the actresses who were brave enough to speak out earlier - is it a coincidence that their careers nosedived afterwards?

Irish Independent

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