Here’s a deleted segment from my In the Air appearance, presented now for you all to enjoy:
That’s this country’s biggest programme, but by the time I came to appear on it, it was going through something of a rough patch. This troubled period began when one of the show’s two chirpy hosts slept with the other one’s wife just before the show started filming, and news of this affair leaked out to the media. At that point, fans of the pair went to war with each other . . . and I mean war. From small skirmishes in pubs to giant battles in football stadiums, each faction was convinced that their particular preferred host was in the right. This rumbled on for a violent while, with no end in sight. But when one side started suicide bombing people just for having the same name as the host they were against, the channel behind the programme had to stop lapping up all the free publicity and publicly call for calm.
I did not cut this part because it sucked – indeed, when I was editing and realised that it had to go, I wrote ‘sob’ in the margins next to it, because I really did love this surreal little paragraph. No, it went because it was dragging down the pacing when I was meant to be establishing a narrator . . . also, because it made some of the later events in the story seem less horrific by comparison. But I include it here today because it shows perfectly what the story is about – see, without wandering too far into spoiler territory here, the tale is all about tabloid lives. And that’s the very thing that inspired it.
You see, I was thinking about our world’s obsession with fame and celebrity one day, and it occurred to me that many modern day ‘musicians’ do not need to release singles/downloads/whatever they’re called now very often, as their private lives, reported to us on a daily basis via newspaper headlines and gossip mag articles, had kind of taken the place of actual content. I’m not talking real musicians here, of course, but rather the type of ‘artist’ churned out by the Factor/Idol/. . . Got Talent production line, hence the use of inverted commas back there. Thinking about such stuff is nothing new – I’ve dealt with fame culture in about a dozen published pieces, including, in a roundabout way, my first appearance with the fine folk hosting me here today. So the idea of being obsessed with a person’s life just because they’re on TV is nothing new to me at all . . . and yet I still just don’t get it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – there are people and organisations whose work I love and follow . . . writers like Stephen King and Brian Keene, bands like Therapy? and Metallica, purveyors of Internet awesomeness like Cinemasins and Whatculture. But do I want to know what those people involved are doing each and every day of the week? Do I feel that something’s missing from my life if I do not know what they all had for tea last night? No. I do not. And I genuinely think there’s something wrong with you if you do.
Again, though, it must be said: I just can’t stop writing about this stuff. It’s what really gets me as a lover of satirical fiction, and every time I think I’ve written everything there is to write about it, I’ll read something ridiculous in the newspaper, see yet another terrible TV show with the word ‘celebrity’ in the title, and I’ll be off again. Which has occasionally made me wonder if I might be repeating myself. But there’s a fine line between repetition and just having constant themes that typify your work, and so far so good I’ve managed to keep myself on the right side of it. I think.
My story from In the Air is one of my absolute favourites on this theme, and I can’t wait for you all to read it. As much as I love it, though, the mindset of a fame-obsessed stooge remains beyond me. Guess I’ll just have to keep writing . . .
Shaun Avery writes crime and horror fiction in a number of different mediums. He also has a special fondness for stories that cross horror with satire, a sub-genre of which his featured story “The Fictionals” is a personal favourite so far.
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Featured Image Credit: Talent Show by Pawel Kuczynski