Celia Larkin: We made her into a monster, but this is the real Heather
We must all share the blame for the way Paul McCartney's ex was torn apart in public, writes Celia Larkin
There was something very satisfying about Heather Mills finally having her voice heard above the roar of the Red Tops.
Heather has been vilified in the press from the day she married Paul McCartney. First she was a gold digger for marrying him. Then, when it went wrong, it was nothing to do with him. It was all HER fault. She was difficult. She was self-serving. She was undeserving of the King they called Macca. The poor girl could do nothing right. She was even accused of knowingly causing the death of her neighbour's dog. An accusation that seemed unlikely, given her charity work centred on animal welfare.
Piers Morgan seemed to imply that Heather Mills had consented to tapes being played to him, tapes in which Paul McCartney apologised for a row they had. This was a paper who had branded her a gold digger, 'Mucca' to his 'Macca', questioned the sincerity of her charity work, work that commenced long before Heather met McCartney. Who in their right mind would believe she would assist such a newspaper? Well, you know what? Most of us DID believe the spin. It's the old story; tell it often enough and people will begin to believe it. And that's what happened to Heather Mills.
If you actually take the time to listen to Mills, I mean listen, not just read what's written about her, you'll see she is a strong, sincere, independent women. She didn't lie down under the weight of McCartney's fame and wealth, she continued to plough her own furrow, campaigning for her charities, maintaining a strong individuality. And that, it seems, is the greatest sin of all. The cheek of her, did she not know that once a woman marries a famous man she should then become invisible, unless of course she happens to be promoting his fame, his image, his career?
For years Heather was the darling of the media. Overcoming adversity, refusing to allow the loss of a limb reduce her to the scrap heap. Moving from teenage glamour model to avid campaigner for animal rights. And then Paul McCartney marries her and all hell breaks loose. The tabloids chipped away at her right through her marriage, but once it ended, it became a full frontal attack. And for all his wealth and connections, McCartney was unable to come to the rescue.
The poor woman was called a whore, a liar, a fantasist, a hardcore porn queen. It seems incredible that such things could be published in the media, but they were. Is it any wonder she was reduced to tears in the October 2007 GMTV interview? Did we feel sympathy for her then? No. 'Heather Mills has Melt Down' screamed the headlines, so now, not only was she a whore, liar and hard core porn queen, but she had lost her marbles to
boot. And if that wasn't enough, Carol Malone of the Sunday Mirror, one of the papers that was relentless in its attacks on Mills, accused her of staging an act on live TV in order to further her cause in the upcoming divorce hearing. How cruel can you get?
And all the time we lapped it up. Bought the papers, watched the coverage on TV. Gossiped over it, gloated over it, sniggered over it. Deliberately oblivious to the living, breathing, hurting human being behind the media-constructed monster called Heather Mills.
At the end of her divorce case Mills was accused of engaging in a rant when she endeavoured to e xplain her position to the world media ahead of the publication of proceedings. 'What's wrong with her?' we thought, 'she got £24m.'
To us mere mortals, a lot of money: enough to inspire jealousy, spitefulness, and justification for the 'gold digger' title. But to McCartney it was a fraction of his wealth. His coffers were most likely replenished in a matter of months, such is his capacity to generate money. Did that matter? Not a bit. We were too mesmerised and enthralled by the mauling, so we felt justified by the 'pay-out'.
We look now at the telephone hacking scandal and express shock, horror, revulsion at such intrusion into people's lives. Wonder how editors and owners could have condoned or engaged in such outrageous behaviour. Demand action, heads on plates, legislation to protect privacy, all the time deliberately oblivious to the part we as a public played in the whole scandal by our passive participation, our hunger for detail, our delight in misfortune, our disregard for the emotionally battered person behind the story.
Yes there was something very satisfying about Heather's voice being heard above the roar of the tabloids.