Views from a media scrum

Arrived at BBC’s Western House studios yesterday to record some Pause for Thought slots for Radio 2, and found myself caught up in a media scrum. I had to elbow my way through a phalanx of excitable teenage fans, aggressive paparazzi and beefy security guards to get into the lobby.  It turns out that the crowd were waiting for teen music sensation Miley Cyrus to emerge.  Eventually she did so, with her 50-strong retinue.  She passed through the crowd for less than one minute, was bundled into her blacked-out car, and then sped off with paparazzi on mopeds and fans in black cabs in hot pursuit!

It used to be that ‘consumption’ was a disease suffered by older ladies in starched lace collars in costume dramas. Now, it would seem, it is suffered by 17-year old singing sensations too.  What exactly makes people descend like vultures swooping down out of the sky for the merest glimpse of ‘their’ celeb? And how does it feel to come out of a building and find such a greeting? The consumption of celebs at the heart of our society seems to bring out some raw animal instinct where the pack pursues its prey relentlessly.

Astounded by the sight out through the window, I commented to the studio manager that ‘surely no-one is that interesting’.  This is, of course, wrong.  As a Christian I should recognise that everybody is that interesting, and that every single one of them bears the indelible stamp of their creator.  This applies as much to the paparazzi and the screaming fans as it does to the celebrity.  As far as God is concerned and the church should be concerned – we are all interesting.

Interestingly, my vantage point from the studio waiting area meant that I could not watch the proceedings directly. Instead, I watched them all played out on the mirrored glass of the building opposite.  It put me one step removed, I suppose. It allowed me to reflect, both literally and metaphorically, on what I was seeing.

The trouble with watching things in a mirror, though, is that you always see yourself – for good or ill. What contribution do I make to this consumptive society, I wonder?

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