Documentary Review: Starsuckers


London Film Festival

I caught a preview showing of the new documentary ‘Starsuckers’ today at the London Film Festival.

And I’m in two minds over how I felt about it; unsure whether to praise some of it’s simple yet clever tactics in ‘duping’ many of our biggest tabloids into running fake celeb stories, or criticize it for being just a little too dramatic and overly negative.

The documentary, according to its website, “uncovers the real reasons behind our addiction to fame and blows the lid on the corporations and individuals who profit from it”.

It’s a Michael Moore style documentary with a very Michael Moore-sounding American narrator taking us through why the media is so very evil and why we need to protect our children from its dangerous clutches.

We were very lucky after the showing of the film that the director and writer, Chris Atkins, made a surprise guest appearance.

He even told us about how he’s been dealing with threats of an injunction from Max Clifford recently. Clifford was secretly filmed for the documentary telling us all about some rather lewd celebrity behaviour he’s spent his life hiding from the press.

Another rather amusing section of the documentary is when a company is interviewing people for a job as a celebrity PA. Some of the things these desperate people are willing to do, including booking prostitutes for their boss or fetching them drugs, are hilarious to watch them admitting to.

The bad and the ugly

However, as funny as sections like this are, for me there are a few problems with this documentary.

For example, some of the ‘scientific evidence’ which is presented as reason for our fascination with celebrity is somewhat vague and not terribly convincing. I know they may be trying to keep it simple for a mass audience, but if you’re going to try and take our interest in celebrity back to tribal times then you really need to do this properly rather than just skim through it.

And I don’t like the way that documentaries like this can go so far the other way and skew everything as so terribly negative. The point is that there are still plenty of very good journalists out there who do their job to a very high standard.

Yes, it would be a good thing if the Press Complaints Commission, which the documentary exposes as near to useless, was redesigned so that it isn’t a system of self-regulation. Perhaps then there would be a little more, well, regulation. But as far as making the world a better place overall is concerned, I’m not convinced this documentary is going to achieve that, even though its tone seems to hint that it thinks it might.

I personally have a lot more faith in the vast majority of the human race than it seems Starsuckers would like us to have. Just look at this year’s Big Brother viewing figures and the fact that Channel 4 has announced that next year will be the reality programme’s last.

We’re more than capable of knowing when enough is enough. And although there will always be the extremists out there who want to make their babies reality TV stars, the vast majority of us don’t need a documentary to tell us that this is the wrong way to behave and that we shouldn’t all model our moral compass on that displayed by the showbiz sections of tabloid papers.

By Sophie Hudson


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