Starsuckers Review: Evil Empire
STARSUCKERS: Tuesday 6th April, More4, 10pm ALERT ME
Run away. Now. Leave your computer and your desk and head for the hills. And drop your mobile whilst you’re at it. In a lake. Speak to no one and don’t, whatever you do, buy a newspaper or look at a billboard.
Starsuckers makes an appearance on our television screens to unflinchingly and painfully reveal the celebrity, business controlled culture we all live in – whether we think ourselves complicit or not. Guided by an American voice, the narrator walks us through the various ways in which we are tricked, “most of you have been unwitting participants in our allusions”. Beware, because Starsuckers is fascinating but also almost impossible to watch at the same time.
The documentary producers make use of set-ups (whether that be with unsuspected fame wannabes, or Max Clifford), intelligent talking heads and detailed filming to portray how our society is driven by fame, and essentially how this disease – controlled by business – forms the rotting heart of almost everything about our world.
For example, there’s a vile agency in America which scouts kids like non-affectionate paedophiles to groom them into being self-obsessed celebrity slaves. We also see a Reality TV School where they basically teach you how to be a terrible person. The makers also set up their own fake TV companies and agency interviews so we can watch in horror as teenage girls agree to prostitute themselves for a sniff of fame and vacant parents hand over their child’s soul with a signature. “They’ll get to see sumfing they’ve never seen before won’t they?” says one loving British father. What exactly is that? Kerry Katona crying in her dressing room?
Fame, it would seem, is overlooked when it comes to evils that are recognised by society. Sex, drugs, alcohol and gambling are all widely treated and maligned, but the unhealthy thirst for celeb-dom is seen as nothing more than a mild amusement – take X Factor for example.
One of the main strands of narrative is the progression of toddler starlet Ryan. He embodies the point that kids just copy the shimmering pixels they stare at all day. It’s also made visibly worse by the parents who attempt to gain some warped kind of displaced glory by reflecting their brat’s success back on themselves. Predictably, Ryan’s parents are extremely pushy.
Starsuckers’s dissection of newspapers and the morals and intentions of all those involved, including the consumers, makes you question everything. Why am I writing this, right now? Journalists are essentially driven by the business of celebrity and PR, quotes are made up, copy from companies is taken as golden and nothing is checked. Essentially, everyone wins because the public would rather read about a flailing celeb than anything else.
Charity doesn’t escape the Starsuckers treatment either. Live 8 is exposed for apparently causing more deaths than famine and war in Africa, and purposely overshadowing the political marches of Make Poverty History. Clearly, you and I would rather sit in our armchairs and see Pete Doherty trying to overcome his heroinised brain to perform with Elton John than witness a balanced political debate on deprivation.