What if Cilla Black rapped, Rush Limbaugh was the face of the Democratic election campaign, and Amy Childs won a Turner prize? It’s not out of this world. A world where the grass is always greener on the other side, and 90% of celebrities truly think they can jump that fence. Some few get the best of both worlds (J-lo managed to keep her foot in the bronx door with ‘Jenny from the block’). Most others seem discontent with their starting point.
This week Dominic West has brought this issue to the fore, lamenting his ‘Etonian’ past – likening the label to that of a “paedophile”. The media grabbed onto it with gusto – the Telegraph and the Daily Mail positively horrified that someone could resent a royalist connection. The private/public school stigma can’t come as any big surprise, though. ‘Juicy’ wouldn’t have packed half the punch it did if Notorious BIG, admitting he ‘sipped champagne when he thir-stay’, hadn’t made it there from nothing.
It’s the first thing you learn at Uni; the first thing pummeled out of you via lambrisco and Never Have I Ever before the all-important interrogation of your sexual history: where you went to school. Private school is not cool, and for many I encountered, not acceptable. My school was no Eton, but a private sixth-form nonetheless – as I learned, far more of an ice-maker than breaker. Fresh Meat tried and failed to really parody this. Witnessing university attempts at ‘changed identity’ can be pure platinum – from the ‘private school rude boy accent’, to some Oscar-worthy tales of drug-heists and sex-on-car-roofs, in a bid to consolidate their cool.
Celebrities, however, aren’t as priviledged as we unknown, perhaps undiscovered, students. Without the smooth and rejuvenating segway of University, they have to take far more drastic leaps to reinvent themselves. Or at least I hope that was Snoop Dogg’s theory behind his recent decision to take up coaching a women’s American football team (“in lingerie-style uniforms”). Or Kanye’s relentless determination to make his name as a fashion designer, despite his equal determination to persist with leather and fur. If internet trolling has by pure chance led you here, Kanye: let it go. Few avenues are left untrodden – Ronald Reagan opened the political path to, among others, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Cantona. Madonna took up directing (poorly). These guys were hardly floundering before this point – bar Arnie they were highly acclaimed. Why oh why take that giant leap into the clearly unknown?
Fair enough if you’re Peter Andre, who has “finally confessed” that this whole showbiz debaucle was just diversion from his true passion: blending coffee – something he hopes to realize soon with the opening of worldwide café chain, “Andre’s”. It’s not quite a sex-tape – the segway countless celebs, including Rob Lowe and Shakira, have fallen for – but unfortunately for Pete I’m still not so sure this is the key to ‘getting serious’ and shaking the far more embarrassing label than ‘Etonian’: “Jordan’s ex”. He needs to take a leaf out of Mark Whalberg’s book – a man who has got so close to an Oscar, it is sometimes impossible to detect his inner Marky Mark. Even Victoria Beckham, as of this year, has finally been commended with making it out the long long tunnel from Posh, to ‘Loosing my mind’, to crap perfume creator, to acclaimed designer.
True, seen as having had life handed to him, Dominic is not blessed with street cred. Whether by chance or on purpose, though, he managed to bag a role in The Wire – arguably the most effective, fast-track way of securing emergency rep – and hasn’t really had to look back until now. Woody Allen married his stepdaughter and just won an Oscar… I think Dom’s ok rep-wise.