A number of celebrities from both sides of the Atlantic have joined together to encourage the media to pay them less attention.
Speaking from his home in Madrid, superstar David Beckham led calls for greater disinterest on the part of the general public. The moderately-able-in-the-grand-sweep-of-the-sport’s-history footballer told the BBC, ‘Like many well-known people, I have enjoyed being the centre of attention over the last few years. I like to have my picture taken, and having thousands of people chant your name every Saturday is undeniably a great buzz. But I get more column inches in the papers than most international conflicts, and I’m just increasingly aware of how absurdly disproportionate it all is.’
Asked if breaches of security and allegations about his fidelity to his wife had prompted his change of heart, Beckham demurred. ‘That stuff is certainly unpleasant, but it’s about a lot more than that. Like, the other day, I was reading about Johnson Beharry, who has just won the first Victoria Cross for over twenty years. Did you know he saved THIRTY members of his unit during an ambush? Now that’s bravery. I am ashamed to be called a hero or a leader when I think of him. Instead of reading about me, people should read Surviving the Sword, a deeply moving account of the treatment of prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese.’
Beckham conceded that his wife is taking her time to come round to his way of thinking. ‘When she read that Private Beharry had been awarded the Victoria Cross, she actually asked me if the medal was named after her. I was appalled by her self-absorption, but felt even worse when it dawned on me that I am just as bad. In the future, I’ll do my England interviews, and the odd advert for adidas as part of my boot deal, but that’s all the media attention I want.’
American ‘character’ actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, who made screen history when her own face was used as her butt double in sado-masochistic spankfest Secretary, was equally self-effacing. ‘Recently I opined that America was “responsible in some way” for the 9/11 attacks, and that “not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11”. I shudder when I read those words now. What do I know of the suffering of the victims of 9/11, or indeed of international relations? Nothing at all, that’s what. I’m so sorry for being so immature.’
Gyllenhaal’s brother Jake, who starred in the environmental disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, told the BBC: ‘Maggie has a point. I now appreciate fully that when I did all those interviews for my film I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I am in no better a position to tell you how advanced global warming is than I am to create an intranet for a medium-size business. Although I am inclined to believe that the movie’s depiction of cataclysmic floods was a gross distortion of what is remotely likely.’
Old hands at the Hollywood-Stars-As-Commentators game joined in the down to Earth fun. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have long been the toast of left wing activists everywhere for their earnest support of democratic rights and tree liberation. But speaking with breathtaking candour, the couple recanted totally. ‘I was just trying to get laid,’ said Robbins. ‘I never gave two hoots for all those tribes I went on about, and I drink Coca-Cola like a bastard. Why would I want to eat some revolting overpriced carob bar in the name of “fair” trade when I can munch down a Snickers? I was just trying to impress Susan with my right-on ramblings, in the hope of getting some hot – albeit somewhat older – tail.’
Sarandon added: ‘The irony is that I was motivated by much the same thing. I thought that by appearing trendy and knowledgeable I could make myself desirable to Tim. In truth, I’m far from convinced that President Bush is a bad man. He’s certainly a lot cuter than John Kerry. And I was talking last week to Kelsey Grammer about why he’s a Republican. He was pretty persuasive, I must say.’
Cameron Diaz, who had become increasingly involved in political activism, was perhaps the most repentant. ‘I haven’t been sleeping well at all,’ she said, articulating every sentence as though it was a question. ‘Susan and Tim have shown me that I have basically been behaving like a silly teenager. For example, I was on this talk show the other day, advocating an end to world hunger. There was this professor from the University of Chicago on as well, making what I now recognise to be a series of very cogent arguments about why following conventional wisdom may not be the best way to achieve that end.’
‘The next day, the media only reported what I had said – it was something fatuous like “We should all love each other more”. This professor, a genuine expert, had just been totally ignored. I’m going to keep my big goofy mouth shut from now on, except when I really know what I’m talking about.’
Not all celebrities appear to have been hit by this wave of self-deprecation, however. Narinder Kaur, who appeared in the second series of the UK version of Big Brother, was adamant that she still craved the limelight. ‘What? It sounds like they want to be less famous,’ she said incredulously. ‘Why would anyone want to be LESS famous? Do you think I can get more TV time now? Can you help me get back on Channel Four? I don’t mind what I do. I could be good as a celebrity commentator on one of those “100 Greatest Pop Songs” programmes. Or I could do lesbian sex with Jade Goody. I’ll even eat my own shit if they’ll film it. Do you hear me? I’ll EAT MY OWN SHIT – anything – just get me back on the fucking telly.’
A spokesman for Channel Four said that the station is screening a “50 Greatest Big Brother Contestants” show sometime next year, but that they have no plans to invite Ms Kaur to take part. ‘Bubble, Kate Lawlor, Brian Dowling, Helen Adams and even that ghastly faggy guy Marco from last year all seem to interest people more,’ the spokesman said.