Leslie Ann Horgan: 'Oh please, ye gods, release us from this 2003 celebrity time loop'
Perhaps it is because I spent the weekend in Oxford absorbing all of the ancient magnificence while a local resident scoffed at the tourists taking photos of a “modern” bridge — “For god’s sake, it was only built in 1913!” Or perhaps it’s because the clocks went back while I was there and I enjoyed an extra hour of sleep, very possibly for the last time due to the EU Commission’s proposal to dump Daylight Savings Time. Or perhaps it was simply that it was Halloween this week and there’s something spooky going on. Whatever the cause, this week I have noticed we have slipped into a time warp.
“It’s astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll,” Richard O’Brien growled in the famous Rocky Horror Show song, and you don’t have to be a science fiction fan to agree with that sentiment when you look around at the current celebrity landscape. Are we in 2018 or 2003? Consider the evidence before you consult your calendar.
Victoria Beckham is on the front of every celebrity gossip magazine, their headlines proclaiming that it’s doomsday for her marriage — surely the longest, most drawn out ‘will they, won’t they’ in history. Her former compatriots, the Spice Girls, are set to burst back on to the scene in the coming weeks with a new tour and rumours of new music in the offing (albeit without their most stylish member who has, most would say wisely, decided to concentrate on her fashion business instead).
Those who don’t manage to nab Spice Girls tickets can always go to see Westlife who play Belfast and Croke Park before touring the UK next summer. With Shane Filan declaring that they “still have a lot to achieve as a band,” (read: achieve financially) there are plans for new musical releases here too. They’ll be following in the footsteps of Ireland’s other globe-conquering boyband, Boyzone, who play here in January. Rivals Take That will also be along in April, without Robbie Williams who is currently flying high in his solo endeavours on X Factor.
Elsewhere, a newly single Cheryl Cole batted her fake lashes and showed off her fake tan as she stepped out at the Prince’s Trust fundraiser in a scarlet dress with a single sleeve and thigh-high slit, accessorised with a diamond choker. She was comprehensively outshone — as, to be fair, was all of womankind — by Jennifer Lopez in a photoshoot for InStyle magazine. J-Lo posed literally half naked in an artfully draped Valentino cape in a dazzling green. If there’s any concrete proof of time travel, then it’s this woman and her eternal youth.
As someone in her late 30s, I suppose I should be glad the celebrities of today are, well, the celebrities of yesterday. I may not know the minor players, like who Tristan Thompson is or what Cardi B does, but the heavyweights are old friends. I lived through the era of J-Lo and Puff Daddy (and Ben Affleck, and Cris Judd, and Marc Anthony and Casper Smart) and I remember the sensation caused by her original emerald dress. I recently astounded a younger colleague when I mentioned that the Beckhams had their wedding in Ireland.
Familiarity helps to keep me clued in and feeling somewhat relevant, but at the same time I’m tired of looking at the same old faces — many of them a long way beyond their heyday. How is it that, for the boom-era celebrity, their 15 minutes has somehow lasted 15 years?
I could theorise that it’s because reality TV and social media have ensured that no one is a celebrity now that everyone is, but it’s not a thesis I’m fully convinced by. YouTubers and Love Island contestants are just flashes in the pan, but we’ll always have the need for a new diva, a new rock star, a new Oscar winner, a new style icon, a new supermodel and all of the ‘what-she-wore, who-he’s-dating’ drama that comes with them.
At the moment, the royals have stepped up to fill the gap, bringing us weddings and babies, tiaras and gowns, an American princess and a future queen. But the royals are bound by rules and constrained by propriety — there will be no barely-there dresses or bitter fallings-out coming from that quarter. So please, ye gods, I beseech you to release the current crop of turn-of-the-century relics to a quiet retirement and give us some vivacious new celebrities to speculate over and gossip about. Let’s not do the Time Warp again.