14 July, 2009

Popstars: The Rivals *

You know how Cheryl Cole and Danni Minogue hate each other? Oh, they're always at it like cats and dogs, never have a nice word to say about each other. Danni's jealous you see, because Cheryl is younger than her, and because younger automatically means more beautiful, of course. The rivalry between them has got so bad that all at war has erupted on the set of the X Factor - a style war. Every day they try to outdo each other in that uniquely feminine way, with their outfits. so far Danni's trouncing Cheryl (apart from an embarrassing incident yesterday when they turned up both wearing the same shoes - NIGHTMARE!) and boy, isn't she smug about it.

Dear reader, you may have noticed that the previous paragraph is pure, unparallelled bollocks. I don't know Danni Minogue or Cheryl Cole, they're pop singers and judges on a tv talent show; I live in Essex and have savings totalling 47p, our worlds have yet to collide. They've never publicly said a bad word about each other, no "sources close to (either) star" have been quoted dishing the dirt on their "feud" and there's no evidence whatsoever that any more thought has gone into their outfits every day of last week beyond recognising the need to not leave the house naked.

Yet the Fail has presented every one of the ideas stated in the first paragraph as fact. Daily. I don't like the X Factor (though I'll admit to watching the auditions - yes, I'm a horrible person), Cheryl Cole (the "tv personality" I suppose, as I don't know her as a person) irritates the hell out of me and I have no strong feelings towards Danni Minogue, but Cod, I know every detail of their "feud", thanks to saturation coverage in the Fail.

It started when Cheryl joined the show on the last series. The Fail reported on the day of her appointment that Danni would "obviously feel envious and threated by her younger, thinner rival". She "could not compete" looks-wise, simply because Cheryl was a decade younger. Before filming even started they reported that Danni "would hate" Cheryl. All pure speculation, of course, and ignoring key points like the fact that beauty is subjective and thus not ruled by age and dress size.

And so it went on, and goes on, the last week being dominated by reports of how the judges were "trying to outdo each other" with their choice of clothes, with daily updates suggesting that one was "smug" and the other "furious at being outdone" without ever providing any evidence other than a photo of each of them smiling gaily, and quotes regarding "rumours" that they started, and have not been reported anywhere else.

If you're wondering what my point is, it is this. This "feud" is as manufactured as Girls Aloud theselves. It exists only within Fail writers own minds. Yet they slavishly report on it every day, along with innumerate other "catfights" between female celebrities for which no evidence exists. Why? Because they get to perpetuate their own ridiculous views on female beauty, by both implicitly and explicitly implying that Cheryl is 'more beautiful' because she is younger, and that more beautiful is 'better'. This in turn encourages women to judge each other on these terms and society in general to dismiss women as petty, insignificant creatures obsessed with make-up and clothes. Female solidarity is replaced by in-fighting; the Patriarchy rumbles on undisturbed.

The idea behind this blog was to bring our own brand of Facebook activism into the wider world, where we might one day help to inspire change. With that in mind, while there's no petition to sign and no ombudsman to complain to, we can all do something to help fight this characterisation of women as shallow bimbos in constant competition with one another - don't believe everything you read. At least if you read it in the Fail.

* With apologies to those quite rightly uninterested in fake tv talent contests.


  1. Goes to prove how inaccurate the Fail are when Marie Claire featured photos of Danni attending Cheryl's birthday party and a prior article that reported that Cheryl told Simon she would leave The X Factor if he sacked Danni. Perhaps I am a bad feminist for believing Marie Claire though.

    I think that the underlying insidious attempt of the Fail is to perpetuate jealousy of beautiful, successful women. By manipulating women into believing that Cheryl and Danni hate and are jealous of one another it is trying to incite vitriol towards one, other, or both of them by the everyday woman.

  2. I do wonder what sort of weird soulless cynicism has forced someone to write withering tales about two women as some sort of thunderdome-esque battle where the weapons are not talent or intellectual criteria but worrying about their looks and their rivals appearance. What soul crushing event or spine removal procedure has happened to produce such phantasies.

    Then again it does just sound like they've taken the rivalry from Zoolander and used it for their own boredom.

  3. this (shamefully) reminds me of an MTV behind-the-scenes programme on the music video for "lady marmalade" - and pink chanting, "we proved them wro-ong, we got alo-ong"...

  4. Wellis - or to perpetuate newspaper sales: how else do you gain the interest of a population that couldn't actually give a shit about what's happening on the other side of the world? Stir up a nice little war and who gives a shit about the truth.
    The Fail, as ever, fulfils its name.

  5. Sayem - so right. I read an interview in the G2 not that long ago with the editor of one of those American gossip magazines, and he admitted the whole "Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt love triangle" story that they have on their cover every week is COMPLETELY made up, but it draws in an audience, who then buy the magazine every week to read all about the new developments. How do they get away with it?!

  6. Because no-one reading has the presence of mind to consider not buying the magazines concerned, unfortunately.


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