Monday 14 October 2019

Revenge is Tweet: How Coleen Rooney changed public opinion about her overnight

Coleen Rooney (left) has changed people's opinion of her following her spat with Rebekah Vardy
Coleen Rooney (left) has changed people's opinion of her following her spat with Rebekah Vardy

Tanya Sweeney

To my mind, there are two types of people in Ireland today: those who are metaphorically eating popcorn, agog, as the Coleen Rooney/Rebekah Vardy saga unfurls. In the other camp are those flexing their culture snob muscles with reedy proclamations of 'Rebekah WHO?'.

The latter faction - a minority admittedly - still can't have failed to grab the basics of the spat. After months of opening the tabloids to find that someone had sold stories on her private life, footballer Wayne Rooney's wife Coleen came up with an ingenious plan to identify the 'culprit'.

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Blocking all but one account on her private Instagram, Rooney concocted some false stories about a flooded basement (if she was aware of the sexual pun here, I will personally throw her a parade). Later, in a tale that even a seasoned scriptwriter could barely summon up, she made up a story about a gender selection trip to Mexico. She then identified the stories as having been seen by one account only - that of………. (more dots here please, for dramatic effect) ……… that of fellow WAG Rebekah Vardy. Vardy has strenuously denied the allegations, noting that several people have access to her Instagram account.

In any case, the exchange has spawned a hundred hashtags, such as #WAGathaChristie and, closer to home, #coleenmhaith.

Those of us in the former camp can barely believe the juiciness of the gossip. It genuinely has it all: the payoff of a hardboiled whodunnit, a glossy dollop of WAG glamour, the drama of a finger pointed on the global platform of Instagram, the flying fur of a classic catfight. As other WAGs chime in with their tuppence worth, the rest of us are being afforded a glimpse beyond the veneer of the WAG set who, let's be fair, are less seen and less heard of than in times past.

But let's press pause and dig a little deeper into #floodedbasementgate, because this is no common-or-garden gossip story. Firstly, people who normally wouldn't profess to have too much truck with WAG gossip are all over the story like an Italian defender. One pal of mine, who abhors reality TV and dismisses Love Island and TOWIE as brainless fleshfests, texted: "Coleen - this is epic and fabulous!"

Newstalk's Sean Defoe tweeted yesterday: "You better believe I've shoehorned Coleen Rooney into my 1pm Brexit report." Cormac McQuinn, of this parish, noted: "The venue for the Varadkar/Johnson meeting appears to have been the location for at least one previous major event - Coleen Rooney's 21st birthday party."

So why has Coleen caught our collective attention so?

Much of it has to do with a happy accident of timing. With Brexit casting a long and draughty shadow over all that we do these days, the idea of Coleen Rooney sleuthing her Chanel cashmere socks off has given us some blessed light relief. #WAGathaChristie has moved many of our attentions away from the ceaseless uncertainty and misery of current headlines, from the Budget to Boris and Brexit. And we're all clearly grateful for the distraction.

On another level, it has given us a chance to reappraise what we thought we knew about Coleen. This doesn't happen very often, thanks to the transparency that Instagram and other social media platforms afford us. We rarely get a chance to be truly surprised by what celebrities get up to. And yet here we are.

You had probably dismissed Coleen as a ditzy WAG. You might have filed her in your brain under 'likes to shop' or 'loves an auld holiday'. There's no doubting that Rooney has enjoyed the fringe benefits of her husband's megabucks career but… well, that was about it really, wasn't it?

Today, however, Coleen is being lauded as a one-woman MI5. She's gone from Bond Street to Female Bond. She has shown more cunning, creativity and flair for drama than any of us had previously credited her with. As someone else pointed out, it's barely a wonder that serial philanderer Wayne kept getting caught cheating.

How this two-woman tussle will play out is hard to tell. But overnight, Rooney has managed to flip the long-held narrative around herself. She has gone from a scorned woman who turned a blind eye to her wayward husband (once she got to the Maldives a few times a year), to a rather smart cookie not afraid to call out a perceived wrongdoing.

She's worth a dozen Waynes, after all. It turns out that, in this marriage, he's probably the lucky one.

Irish Independent

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