Celebrity death match – Pamela Anderson vs Tommy Lee ()Celebrity death match – Pamela Anderson vs Tommy Lee () © Copyright

Celebrities are killing celebrities

It was inevitable that it would come to this. The three 2016 Presidential Debates served like a tame, pre-fight press conference, now it’s time for the main event. A celebrity is president. Celebrity has in 2017 fully entered a grave new world. Pretty soon famous people – in a last ditch attempt to salvage their careers – will kill one another live on television.

Premonition first came in the pre-reality TV, pre-broadband, latter days of peak late-night MTV, where actors, musicians and athletes would pound, pummel and gruesomely murder each other. They were made of plasticine, their baying live audience was made of plasticine, and I, aged ten, would stay up late on Friday nights howling with laughter. Forget Black Mirror, the largely forgotten stop-motion satire Celebrity Deathmatch is the most prescient presage on what celebrity culture would later become.

Of course, I didn’t know that in 1998 – I didn’t even begin to understand what they were getting at. My interest then was puerile; contemporary to the bloodthirsty humour that repeatedly killed cartoon schoolboy Kenny in South Park and the commercially successful chapter of Eminem’s rap career. It took me longer to realise that all we will ever want is to see famous people hacking the living shit out of one another.

Next came Big Brother – a dozen or so real people under 24 hour surveillance, and over the course of a summer confined housemates elevated to low-level fame.

It wasn’t enough. Year-on-year, the show’s entertainment value wore thinner and thinner. In the face of dwindling viewing figures, the franchise changed channels and the focus switched to the celeb version, which pitted already famous people together within the same house.

This was what we were really after – desperate celebrities against other desperate famous celebrities, all thrown together to agitate and aggravate each other; to prod and poke and at three in the morning drunkenly break, all to be quickly packaged for a post-watershed audience.

Celebrity death match – Pamela Anderson vs Tommy Lee ()


As things progressed, scrambling TV execs identified that reality format plus sufficiently-famous famous people was a winning formula. And reality TV exploded.

I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here; Strictly Come Dancing; Dancing On Ice; Splash; The Jump

I don’t know where the appetite for famous people making fools of themselves – and in the case of The Jump, putting both their career and their health in danger – will end. All I know is that if a fading celebrity dares to attempt to reverse their declining trajectory and something goes wrong, we want to see them falling harder, from higher and less gracefully than ever before. As I write this, Olympic cycling legend Sir Bradley Wiggins is the latest to risk the future use of his legs on the slopes of The Jump.

Oh, and something else has happened, too. People really like watching men and women fight now. British boxers are fighting in front of record numbers of fans; UFC has exploded; Ronda Rousey happened.

Then a couple of months ago, it went next level. Fighting and celebrity combined, partly thanks to a tweak in Instagram.

Karreuche Tran – Chris Brown’s ex-girlfriend – posted a selfie on Instagram. Soulja Boy ‘liked’ the picture, and thanks to an alteration in the app that allows users to see a couple of people who’ve liked a photo on their feed, Chris Brown spotted it. And because Chris Brown’s the kind of guy who thinks he holds authority over his former partners, he started calling Soulja Boy out on Twitter and Instagram. Soulja Boy responded, the two went back and forth and eventually agreed to have a fight.

50 Cent has agreed to train Soulja Boy. Chris Brown is being trained by Mike Tyson. And Floyd Mayweather is promoting the fight. Chris Brown has since backed out, but it's clear where we're headed. If, like me, you waste time in the right places on the internet, you’ll know all about this. If you’ve managed to avoid it, then I promise I am not making it up. Celebrity Deathmatch has come true.

Photo: wenn


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