Ian Monk: Will the age of the celeb die with BB?

The final series of Big Brother begins this week, a spectral affair likely to embarrass even its shameless makers.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

Even ardent fans now feel, in the words of the immortal Monty Python, that this series is a dead parrot of a show.

Its appearance on our screens owes nothing to any kind of renaissance or to nostalgia for the way we were when 'reality' was the hot genre. It is simply a decaying body of work on which the coffin lid remains ajar because of ongoing contractual obligations to broadcast BB11.

The final freak show may, however, prove instructive in setting in stone the demise of the age of celebrity that has defined popular culture since the millennium.

If so, the implications for media and publicists are profound. For a decade, 'celebrity parties' peopled by televised oddballs and nonentities have provided a PR no-brainer for a host of brand launches. The 'stars' have provided revenue streams for agents and publicists hired to promote their celebrity and, sometimes ironically, to 'manage their image'. A host of brand endorsements have also provided rich pickings.

PR has also benefited from the burgeoning success of the plethora of celebrity magazines that grew largely off the back of TV's endless churn of new 'slebs' to be built up, knocked down and relaunched.

The growth of these magazines offered endless new editorial acreage for publicists to cultivate.

One senior magazine executive I lunched with a week or two ago postulated that drastically falling circulation figures in the celebrity sector did indeed signify that the end of the celebrity age was nigh.

Wanted - new celebrities, was the cri de couer.

Yet the problem is that everyone can now be a star of Facebook or YouTube without the ritual humiliation and fakery of Big Brother.

Meanwhile true stars - individuals with talent - prefer the media to laud their performances while respecting their privacy in areas of life that 'celebrities' need to flaunt to perpetuate the media myths cultivated around their vacuous personas.

It is, truly, the dawning of a new age of reality.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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