on 13 February 2006
From the front cover shot of an empty red carpet, to Angelina Jolie’s vacant gaze from the back of her limo, through the junk merchandise and celebrity junkets in between, Jocelyn Bain Hogg’s stunning photo essay throws a penetrating spotlight on our seemingly infinite capacity for celebrity worship. His probing images are skilfully interwoven with the testimonies of people inside the fame machine – actors, performers, genuine legends and wannabes yearning to join the spangle-heeled throng. Highlights include the acutely observed prose-poem “What You See Is What You Get” by prog-rock icon Peter Hammill; a masterclass in attention-grabbing by outspoken playwright and performer Tim Fountain; the touchingly delusional story of Superman lookalike and acting hopeful Christopher Dennis; a revealing essay on the making of stars and their stories by Harper’s Bazaar’s Sarah Bailey; and an unsettling insight into the psychology of celebrity culture by Priory psychotherapist Sarah Hirigoyen. A brilliant antidote to the pointless and poisonous mindset of reality TV and celebrity lifestyle magazines, and a coffee-table photo book that you will actually want to pore over and read. The anti-celeb backlash starts here!
I am a big fan of Jocelyn Bain Hogg's book The Firm, and of much of his other work (particularly his recent photography of British Youth), and so was quite excited to get a copy of this book. But I'm afraid it didn't really do anything for me. There are some nice photos in here, and some pretty mediocre ones, all tied together by the idea that they are a critique of our obsession with celebrity and fame. To me, it all seemed a little bit too obvious, and didn't add anything to what I already know. The short essays which are interspersed between the photos were mostly similarly throwaway. I'm quite glad to have the (gorgeously produced) book in my collection, but I don't think I'll be referring back to it much in the future.