A new Chris Andrew documentary, Starsuckers, shows how the media blur the line between truth and fiction
The Guardian newspaper played an enthusiastic part in the promotion of Starsuckers, and the sting which was successfully perpetrated on The People, the News of the World and the Sunday Mirror whose journalists believed (or published anyway) various tales of celebrity goings on.
An entertainment review by Matthew Champion outlined the stories ‘sold’ to the paper of Amy Winehouse and other celebrities.
The headlines including the completely invented line that Amy Winehouse’s hair caught on fire when she tried to mend a broken fuse at a house party; that Guy Ritchie gave himself a black eye in a London restaurant with some misguided cutlery tomfoolery; and that Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding is a quantum physics aficionado. But the main thrust of Starsuckers is the unholy alliance by the media and famous faces to exert an almost unshakeable grip over the world’s (western) population.
Another sniffy review, in contactmusic, found Starsuckers a bit of a dogs breakfast of a product. It found its format lacking in focus, smarmy and unconvincingly implying a global conspiracy to dupe the public for commercial ends. Nevertheless it grudgingly concedes that the documentary is packed with critical and entertaining material.. and that Atkins makes his points with wit and irony.
The film seems to have the righteous indignation of a Michael Moore shockumentary. Its format will find an appreciative audience in those with pre-wired suspicions and concerns about the nature of popular media. It will likewise be dismissed by others as a pretentious and righteous over-stating of the bleeding obvious
A conceptual model
Students of social media will be interested in a conceptual model provided by Atkins proposed for the alleged conspiracy: Start them young; keep them hooked; hard-wired urges; gathering information; and creating news.