Rescue me

This is an article by Emma Dickinson.
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We all know ‘fairy tales’. We remember them from childhood, bedtimes, Disney films and pantomimes. We all know what makes a good fairy tale: lonely princess, locked in a tower, held prisoner by a wicked witch or dragon, waiting to be rescued by a Knight in Shining Armour, who comes galloping to the rescue on his gallant steed.  But what of the ‘modern fairy tale’?

Grimm's Fairy TalesThe ones we see everyday on the TV, in magazines, and on the internet? The world of celebrities? Their lives almost certainly fit the shape of the classic fable.

Let’s take Amy Winehouse for starters. Her ‘tower’ prison could be her addiction to drink and drugs. Her errant husband, Blake, might be described as the dragon, holding her hostage. Who comes galloping to the rescue of the poor princess, riding his pure white charger, named Media? Daddy, of course! Always there to wield his topical and PR-friendly sword of sage advice and fatherly concern.

Then there’s ‘Car Crash Du Jour’, Kerry Katona. Her self-built tower could be her spectacularly questionable spouse, Mark Croft. In this particular fairy tale, it is the public playing the role of the wicked witch, unable to release her from its grip of revulsion and pity. Her only prince would probably be a lawyer who came to the rescue waving divorce papers.

Geordie princess

A ‘Happily Ever After’ is probably still a long way off for these two celebrities, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Cheryl Cole, for example, is currently galloping off into the sunset with her Brave Knight, the Public. He rescued her from the ‘evil’ cheating husband, Ashley Cole, from her Tower of Infidelity, and things couldn’t be more rosy for our Geordie princess.

Successful pop band, television career, advertising contracts, and legions of adoring fans.  Britney Spears is another example of a ‘rescue gone right’. Her Daddy came and saw off her nasty manager, saved her from her prison of ‘Breakdown’ and she is now riding high on a fantastic comeback.

Almost forgotten are her shaven-headed-umbrella-wielding incidents. Instead, things are back to a comfortable norm  discussing her tummy and thighs.

In the real world

Leaving Celebrity-Land behind, could the lives of everyday folk be described as fairy tales? This seems unlikely. The average Joanne, with a drug-addiction, cannot regularly jet off to St Lucia, or choose from the cream of the crop when it comes to rehab. The only way her dad can help is if he turns a blind eye when she steals his dole money to get her next fix. Not exactly the knight in shining armour.

How about a single mother in the Real World? Who rescues her when the father of her children disappears into a puff of smoke?

It is different for celebrity single parents. When the public know who the father is, there really is nowhere to run or hide for him. Think Katie Price and Dwight Yorke. And Brian McFadden, who is still in ‘regular’ contact with his children from all the way in Australia. How many absent fathers do you know who could be traced from the other side of the world?

It seems that fame almost forces people to face their responsibilities, in fear of receiving bad press should they not step up to the plate.

That seems to strike more fear into the heart than the DSS seems to in ‘mere mortal’ fathers. Another example of a father being made to answer to his actions is Jude Law, whose Yuletide fling resulted in a recently-born baby daughter. Surely this was a fairy tale come true for the mother: fame, publicity, and more wealth than she could ever have imagined? And for the infant? Gosh, a movie star father although she possibly shouldn’t expect to see him too often.

The thing is, do we really aspire to celebrity so much that we wish to lead the same ‘fabled’ existence? Are we setting ourselves up for major disappointment when we sit about waiting for our handsome prince to rescue us from our mundane lives, when the closest most of us will ever get to that is a pep talk from Jeremy Kyle?

Maybe we are creating the Celebrity Fairy Tale ourselves? Perhaps we have a need to construct a fantasy land. We seem to spend most of our time obsessing over famous people; either hating their guts and ridiculing them, or championing them, and worshipping their images. Their day-to-day dealings are so much more interesting than ours, maybe we need them as little air-brushed chunks of escapism.

It might also to be to do with control, so many things are beyond our control in life, it’s good to feel a tiny sense of omnipotence when it comes to other people’s lives. Especially when they are detached from you, and you don’t have to suffer the consequences.

But really, isn’t this all just a little pessimistic?

These celebrities seem to have so much unhappiness in their lives. Yes, they have wealth and fame, but I don’t think that really outweighs the negative aspects. Fragile egos, bad relationships, addictions, few people they can trust, it doesn’t seem to result in a ‘happily ever after’ in many cases.  Do we really aspire to be like them?

Perhaps a lot of us are already being spirited away on the back of a gleaming white horse. As humble as they may seem, surely things like general well-being, secure relationships – both with yourself and others – aspirations and love, are gifts we take for granted?

With this in mind, here’s a radical thought, perhaps we have something that no celebrity seems to have: the ability to rescue ourselves.


  1. […] Emma Dickinson thinks celebrity lives are presented as fairy tales, but wonders why there are so few happy endings. […]

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