One of the defining moments of modern culture occured in the midst of ITV's otherwise execrable "I'm a celebrity get me out of here" in an exchange between two C-List celebrities trading their dignity for another fifteen minutes in the spotlight.
"So," asked one of the C-Listers* as a nation watched agog, "What exactly do you do?"
Tara Palmer-Tompkinson said nothing. Stripped of her humanity, she sat there, stunned, and presently slipped away for a bit of a cry.
And that, I'm afraid, is what we get from a society that rewards mediocrity, celebrates the victory of style over content while a jealous press mercilessly attacks anyone and anything that might be of any worth.
For example, let us examine the candidates for Britain's "first couple" in this shallow, shallow land of red-top newspapers:
+ HRH and Prince Philip - too old, too royal
+ Tony and Cherie - too smug, too middle class
+ Madonna and Guy - too last year, too mad
+ Posh and Becks - living in temporary exile, on the downward swing of build-em-up-knock-em-down**
That leaves us, alas, with Peter Andre and Jordan, two partially clothed icons of chavdom with plastic chests for whom the words "media whore" were never more appropriate.
In this - dare I say it - here today, gone tomorrow world, one can only hope that they'll go away as soon as OK! magazine loses interest and finds someone equally vacuous for the supermarket checkout impulse buyer. After all, they've got to clear the boards to build up and demolish the victims of X-Factor. Can you remember anything about the last winners of Big Brother, Pop Idol, Fame Academy? Do you even care?
We could console ourselves with the fact that the merry-go-round keeps the Sunday supplements and TV Quick in business and gives the chattering classes something to chatter about. I'd much rather celebrate people who have actually done something worthwhile rather than waste precious seconds of my life reading about what Wayne Rooney's minger of a girlfriend buys in Lidl.
If I was in charge of celebrity, fashion and trend-setting, I'd go out of my way to ensure that our nation's attention-grabbers look as ridiculous as possible. For example: fake sun tans that leave the victime resemblinga lobster auditioning for the Balck and White Minstrel Show; tops that are six inches too short, pleated mini skirts as endorsed by Hot Gossip in 1979 all topped off with furry moon boots, 50p a dozen in Help the Aged. I would call it the "Jesus on a Moped, don't you look stupid" look.
- Glances out of window -
Ah. Beaten to it.
*Such is the nature of celebrity, I can't even picture who this person is, let alone know where they're doing panto this year.
** "Hello! Exclusive!! David and Victoria show us their newly refurbished downstairs loo" Is there no part of the Beckham household that hasn't been photographed (apart from the bulging library)?