Celebrity as easy as A, B, C-list

Caroline Frost
September 07, 2009 12:00am

SUNDAY night saw three amateur performers tip-tap their way through another Dancing with the Stars grand finale.

Propped up by professional partners, they'd sashayed, tripped and tumbled through weeks of toil, and won viewers' hearts with their efforts.

This show is yet another example of stars branching out beyond their field - money for learning new rope, if you like.

We've had Celebrity Driving School, Celebrities Walk their Dogs, and coming up we've got B-Listers Cooking Omelettes, sorry, I mean Celebrity MasterChef.

The whole point is to take us into the VIP enclave to witness the human side of stardom.

We can't be in awe of someone struggling with deodorant in the jungle, or tottering on the scales for Fat Club - instead, they become our friends.

In fact, remember how we went off Tom Williams when he proved too adept on the TV dance floor?

It's the inept fumblers who endear themselves most.

The subtext: look how surprisingly ordinary they all are.

Notice it's never someone at the height of their fame.

That elite bunch are far too busy, and well advised that such openness will only lower their share price.

Instead, it's someone either climbing up celebrity hill or, worse, sliding down the other side.

Sadly for the latter, their original talent, whether it was acting, singing or sporting, may be diluted or even forgotten once they've opted to climb on to this celebrity bandwagon.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, shows such as Australian Idol, X Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, even the superbly uplifting MasterChef, are intent on thrusting an unknown into the glare of the camera, grabbing somebody from down your street and watching them wow the world.

The message is that if Kelly Clarkson, Shannon Noll, Susan Boyle can do it, so can you.

The subtext: look how surprisingly extraordinary we can all be.

So what's really happening here?

Celebrities fumbling with their two-steps or walking their dogs for the cameras are falling off their perch to be more likeable, while unknown wannabes are belting out showtunes in search of universal love.

And sooner or later, this whole desperate mob will end up crossing paths and inhabiting the same vague territory.

It's a place where we can't quite remember why any of them were famous to begin with: a grey middle ground, even if it's often covered by a red carpet.

This tingling tightrope between celebrity and reality reached its height of nonsense during a UK series of Celebrity Big Brother.

The producers had sufficient irony to insert an unknown, Chantelle, into the mix.

The other housemates - in true testament to their stunning self-obsession, no doubt because the only face they're sure of is the one in the mirror - had no idea she was ordinary and duly accepted her as one of them; ie, just another celebrity.

She only went and won, in the process becoming a bona fide B-lister more famous than any of them.

And, before her dazzling debut in the limelight, guess what Chantelle listed as her occupation?

Yes, that's right, Paris Hilton impersonator.

I rest my case.