The Brick Wall

21 10 2010

Since being involved in social media, my perceptions have changed in many ways, and one of those things is my views on what makes a celebrity.

There was once a time when I couldn’t wait to see a movie, or to watch it at home on video or TV, I liked the people I saw on the screen, but they could never love or even simply, like, me back.

For much of my life I’ve felt like there’s this brick wall, and what I want is on the other side. Though surely we’ve all felt like that at some stage, the grass is always greener they say.

Sometimes the way I see it is that people who are in media are on that side of the wall and I’m on this side.

I find it very strange that there are people who I’ve “known” via what they do on TV or Movies for years, even decades, and yet they don’t know me from a bar of soap. a lot of people are comfortable with that idea… but I’m just a little uneasy about it.

There have been moments when I’ve been online where I felt as though I had managed to put a few small holes in that wall and manage to tell someone on the other side that I am here.

I find that these days, I don’t care about someones show unless I have had some sort of contact with them online.

Actual conversation, that’s what I’m after, it means more to me if someone has sent me a few tweets to ask how Katie is today or if I’m feeling well, or to ask my opinion, or if I could help with something as opposed to “My big new show is on Ten in five minutes”.

I have always felt that I was on the wrong side of things, a frustrated audience member, I want to be up there with those other people, I want to produce something that makes people think or wonder or just laugh for a while.

You know, for a while when I was on radio, I got very upset with myself. “What use am I?” I asked myself. I wasn’t a doctor, who does serious work like heal the sick and injured, I was just a dag who turns up to a radio studio twice a week and says silly things between records.

Well, years later, I found myself in hospital, looking at stark walls, feeling worried, not feeling well enough to do anything, or even read. The constantly beeping drips really get to you after a while, and you hear the nurses talking about patients in the other ward who died during the night, I found the whole experience pretty tough going.

Then one day my wonderful Mum bought in my old Walkman, and I managed to find one station which wasn’t blotted out by all the radio interference that a big emergency hospital generates.

I still remember the first thing I heard was Duran Duran, it was bliss.

For a while I could escape.

And then I realised that to some people, hearing a friendly voice can be vital, working in radio was definitely not a useless occupation afterall, in fact doing any sort of work that makes people smile, be it radio, TV, theatre, film, writing or anything else, is definitely well worth the effort.

But I’m getting off track a bit.

If I can feel included in some way, if I feel I’m not just listener 20,345, if the person speaking into that mic knows I’m there, then it means a lot.

OK. so if you’re someone like Justin Bieber for example, you may really want to reach out to your fans on a personal level, but with thousands of keen followers, is it even possible to form a friendly relationship with any of them?

I do follow a few people who I adored as a teenager, and have tried numerous times to get a little conversation up, but have failed.

Earlier in the week @ThomasDolby followed me, he asked me a question, I answered… I was overjoyed, could it be that he and I could have a nice conversation, I would love that. I thanked him for following me, but warned that I’m a bit chatty, anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I practically write a small novel each day in tweets.

He unfollowed me.

I felt “jilted”, like the guy who was dropped by his favourite girl via SMS.

So I took my frustration out in a torrent of humourous tweets…

I thought I’d do a Vicar of Dibley and scoff all the crunchy bars in the house.
(I do store a lot of chocolate here, so if you should ever feel emotional, drive over, I have lots to share)

Well I didn’t do that, but I did down two bags of crisps instead, besides, chocolate is bad for my kind.

I thought that perhaps I had whacked a bloody huge hole out of the wall that day, only to watch aghast as it sealed itself up again in front of me again.

People do chat back to me, that’s wonderful, I appreciate it so much. If all you do is tell your followers when your concert is on, or when your book comes out, then people begin to care less about you and even wonder if you’re really you.

I follow @petshopboys, but their tweets are pretty useless, sometimes they tour and take happy snaps, but they come across as though tweeting is a business they’d rather not do, and they don’t seem particularly interested in the possibility that anyone might be reading… I find that I don’t feel any warmth towards them much anymore.

Though @StephenFry and @MrsStephenFry are really funny, and I suspect that Stephen Fry is a gent who would probably want to have a conversation with us if he didn’t have twenty million followers.

The ideal twitter celebrity is someone who will tweet back to you, has an air of kindness about them, has a few jokes with you, tweet about personal things and the things they’re working on, adds the odd passing thought, likes to stand up for the occasional issue, asks their twitter friends for technical or even personal help, and remembers to say thank you now and then… I’m happy to support this person.

I thought of Ringo Starr, do I even need to say he was with The Beatles?
Anyway, he believed in answering every letter from his fans, most just wanted his autograph, He had a damn good crack at it, he was at it for years. it wasn’t long ago that he finally told his fans he just couldn’t do it any longer, I wonder if he’s moved onto Twitter?

I have been labeled a celebrity myself by some, and I wore that label partially with tongue firmly in cheek, and partially because a part of me desires to be on that other side of the fence.

I’m forty-five this November, and am hoping to have completely smashed that wall by the time I’m 70, Perhaps that’s when Thomas Dolby will ask me if I’m free for coffee today.

And yes, should I make it to the other side, I will do my darnedest to keep in touch with you.