Curl Up and Dye

Hair and beauty salons up and down the country have embarked on some sort of nitwit informal industrial action to ban celebrity gossip magazines in the wake of Caroline Flack’s death.

I know. These chumps have the intellectual elasticity of an anvil.

It’s also straight to the top of the irony class for Tracy and Sharon because as we know, salons are incontrovertibly more about gossip than even hair. We know this from our lived experience of thick as dog turd stylists, assiduously and often unsubtly attempting to wheedle seemingly insignificant personal facts from their habitués.

It’s their lifeblood and not because they are malevolent. It’s just that they don’t know any better. Now, I wouldn’t expect your average crimper to be attuned to the history of the salon, but here we go.

The word salon entered the French language in 1664, deriving from the Italian sala, the large reception space of a grand domicile. These used to be the locations for clusters of society bods with shared interests to discuss literature and society. Indeed, they had started to spring up some 50 years previously at a time when there was no pumping national media infrastructure.

These became the first salons and in effect a network for ideas and, erm, gossip. That tradition went on for a few hundred years and the influences on art by literature and vice versa are plain to see to any student of the 17th and 18th century French Arts. Indeed, in the 18th Century, the salons became an important source of political ideas and the breeding ground for revolutionary ideology and feeling.

So, while there were literary and cultural salons, hair salons as we know them were invented by a chap named Monsieur Champagne who set up shop in Paris and coiffed wealthy Parisian women until his death in 1658. Clearly the people who visited them were not wholly au fait with the works of Cyrano de Bergerac or Madeleine de Scudéry, so preferred to share information on who was shagging whom, while having their hair done.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they say in France.

But back to the main topic of the magazine ban. Gossip is ingrained in their DNA, so what do we really have here?

Firstly, it would be a lot more constructive if they stopped for a moment to consider who the sources are for 90% of the celebrity stories. I mean, when Hello cover a wedding, Mossad haven’t secreted a pinhole camera into the top tier of the cake. (Pssst, the journalists are invited in exchange for money). The same goes for the paparazzi photos outside the club or restaurant. (Pssst, the journalists are tipped off in exchange for money).)

What is more, they’re conflating separate issues and also failing to grasp that hitting a sleeping man over the head with a blunt instrument was always going to have consequences. Even Caroline Flack’s allies are blaming ITV and the CPS for her worsened mental state. Notwithstanding that those arguments are total bollocks, it’s clearly nothing to do with gossip rags that would have simply printed what was already in the public domain about a pending prosecution.

But, let’s get down with the detail.

In removing the magazines and replacing them with glossy interior design pieces, what are these hair sculptors actually achieving? The people who want to feed their lust for popular, irrelevant twaddle will simply power up their smartphones to access tittle-tattle via that medium. Does this mean that people will be barred from accessing specified material on their own equipment while in the salons? Of course not – so the action in banning the magazines won’t be successful in excluding negativity from the waiting area. It will all just be a gesture. Another example of the virtue-signalling bandwagon that will achieve precisely nothing.

Apparently, customers are neither complaining about nor questioning the move. But their husbands are probably not happy that they are coming back home and furiously wallpapering all night. Nobody’s complaining because nobody gives a toss. You could have copies of Mein Kampf in the salon, but the clientele won’t be returning home to plan an invasion of the Sudetenland.

Mark my words though, if custom haemorrhaged as a result of the ban, the magazines would be back. That’s business. Which arguably fuels much of the self-righteousness we see and hear. What a time to be alive.

Apparently, the Culture Secretary is being called upon via an online petition to enact a ‘Caroline’s Law’, which would make ‘knowingly and relentlessly‘ bullying a person in publications to the point that they take their own life, a crime.

I won’t even begin to pick apart the flawed assumption that journalists could bully anybody in an article, not to mention the snowflake inclusion of ‘knowingly and relentlessly’ in a vain attempt to big up the mens rea of this purported crime. Won’t even mention the legal challenges in defining or proving the technical elements for such an offence. Rest assured, that the prospects of such a law hitting the statute books are zero.

Presumably, the supporters for this desired legislation would also want to make ‘soliciting attention for the purposes of boosting personal PR’ a crime too? You see, the so-called ‘bullying‘ is no more the retrospective re-imagination of regret of those who realised that things were no longer going their way.

It’s the negative side of attention-seeking – attention that is otherwise aggressively pursued by so many of our ‘stars’. If you propagate fake news that casts you in a good light, then you can hardly complain if somebody later writes that your fashion sense is ghastly or that your new show is shite.

Their public image is the monster of their own making, and showbiz is a tough gig.

The petition has garnered over 800,000 signatures, which in real terms means that it’s been shared and signed by 1.35% of the population. And the vast majority of those will be those who drop their ‘Gs’ and ‘haitch’ their Hs.

Well, haitchers gonna haitch.

In any event, if what is being written in the press is untrue, they can give an interview to repudiate an article, or sue in the civil court for libel. The law has it covered.

I’m sorry that this woman took her own life, but suicide is complex, and its triggers need to be explored and understood.

We need facts and education, not gimmicks.

unsplash-logoCharisse Kenion

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