How much are we entitled to know about Nicole Kidman’s uterus? There are two different answers to this question depending on your beliefs about the private lives of public people.
The first answer is that we have the right to know everything, a view held by tabloid media among others. This camp argues that because Nicole has previously discussed her miscarriages and fertility issues in interviews, speculation about how she conceived Sunday Rose is inevitable. Having turned on the information tap herself (so the argument goes) it’s unrealistic to shut it off and not expect people to be thirsty.
The second answer, of course, is that it’s none of our business. Famous or not, every individual has the right to decide when and if they share details about their private life. I’m in this camp.
And wait, I just thought of a third answer: who cares about this drivel and where’s the sports section anyway?
The ground is always shifting on the rights of public figures to have private lives. For example, during the acres of recent Tiger Woods coverage I frequently wanted to look away. Possibly because I’m not interested in Tiger Woods but mainly because he wasn’t a politician campaigning on a platform of family values or preaching the importance of fidelity. He’s a golfer. Having said that, were the media wrong to expose his double life? Probably not. And he was extraordinarily naïve or arrogant to think they wouldn’t. When you’re that famous, there are certain things that are impossible to quarantine.
Unlike the implosion of Tiger’s private life, there are those celebrities whose personal disclosures are entirely voluntary and inevitably co-incide with the promotion of a project or product. While this seems totally dodgy, if you put cynicism briefly aside, it isn’t always as contrived as it looks.
Most celebrities who have day jobs only talk to the media when they have something to promote, often doing dozens of interviews in a short period. And if you’re asked enough personal questions by enough good journalists, eventually you’ll let something slip.
But sure, sometimes it does simply appear to be used as a way to manipulate media attention because it is. For example, it’s widely known that to secure a prestigious Vanity Fair cover, you need to reveal something significant. One TV star disclosed that she’d been sexually abused. Others have discussed their sexuality, depression, addictions, relationships, family lives or bodies. It’s Faustian. I give you details, you give me exposure.
There are certain celebrities who refuse to play this game. Beyonce is one. Gwyneth Paltrow is another. Both women resolutely refuse to discuss their famous husbands or their relationships in the media. Gwyneth and husband Coldplay’s Chris Martin have never walked a red carpet or attended an awards ceremony together. They go to great lengths to avoid being photographed as a couple in public.
Then there are the celebrities like Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett who seem reluctant to be famous at all. For them, it’s merely a by-product of a very different ambition and they grin and bear it in the same way the rest of us tolerate pap smears and prostate checks – a necessary evil.
Whether by accident or design, the result of this reticence is far less speculation about their private lives than, say, Brad and Angelina who have more of a come-here-go-away approach to the media.
Where this line between public and private becomes so blurry it makes your eyes cross is when we’re talking about the semi-new genre of reality shows like Keeping Up with The Kardashians and The Hills. The premise of these shows is fly-on-the-wall but in actual fact they are highly staged and often scripted. Everyone is fully made up and each ridiculous episode has a neat and impossibly dramatic arc.
Admittedly, these shows can be oddly compelling in a mind-numbing way, blending the voyeurism of a documentary with the camp melodrama of the Bold And The Beautiful.
I used to pride myself on not knowing who the Kardashians were. Sure, I could probably have identified Kim from a line-up and the words ‘sex tape’ rang a bell but that was it. Somehow in the past few months, my remote control has forced me to watch Keeping Up with The Kardashians on E! and now I can draw you a detailed diagram of the Kardashian family tree which is, like, totally complex.
Recently however, the most famous Kardashian, Kim, confused the hell out of me when she announced she was refusing to answer questions about ‘anything personal’ in interviews. Particularly about her break-up with her sports star boyfriend Reggie Bush
But huh? Isn’t that her job? Isn’t ‘personal’ what her show is about? Don’t reality stars like Kim and co package up their private lives for sale? Because last time I watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians, she was reclining at home moaning about her relationship with Reggie while being filmed pretending to cry so as not to dislodge her false lashes.
So how can she now not be answering questions about her private life? Oh wait, I don’t care. Pass me the sports section. Please.