May 28, 2005

Abi Titmuss: Stakhanov of Kapital


I couldn't disagree more with this.

Abi Titmuss as ordinary, likeable woman, offering a fascinating insight into the nature of contemporary celebrity? Do me a favour. The sickening, simpering Titmuss is worth singling out for special derision because of the propaganda role she plays as a symbol of how, to get ahead in capitalism, it is necessary to set aside all compunctions.

She operates in consumer capitalism much as the legendary Stakhanov functioned in the Stalinist Soviet Union. Stakhanov was a Ukrainian miner who reputedly dug 102 tons of coal in the course of a six hour shift in 1935. (Needless to say, it turned out that Stakhanov had a whole team of miners working under him). Titmuss' heroic efforts on behalf of the UK ether economy 2005 consist in the example she offers of unremitting self-exploitation . She stands for a shrinking of the possibilities of popular culture down to almost nothing - sending out the message: what more can you expect? - and for a total disclaiming of responsibility - wouldn't you do as I have done, given the chance? Everything she does is implicitly justified as an inevitable effect of global capitalism, not much to do with her at all. As A A Gill memorably put it in the Sunday Times last week, Titmuss speaks 'of her career as the pubescent boy's right-hand companion and of her breasts' inability to remain covered, as if they were a medical condition she had to live with, with as much good humour, and stoicism as she could muster. The outbreaks of exhibitionist sexuality were like eczema attacks: disgusting, unsightly but not her fault.'

This is the way in which we are bullied into seeing our behaviour whenever we go along with the latest moronic initiative at work. It isn't anything to do with us, the structure is already in place, we might as well get as much out of it as we can.... If Abi can degrade and demean herself, why can't we?


UPDATE: Mark Sinker mails - 'one of the intriguing things about abi titmuss in that doc - i watched bcz i had never heard of her till that evening! - was that, when the fly-on-the-wall caught her face obliquely or in repose, when she wasn't "on", you got the impression that what was driving her was tremendous rage, panic and self-loathing - i don't think she sees it as compromise, so much as furious self-multilation

kind of munchausen's syndrome by proxy, except the victim is the "angelic image of the nurse" (haha ok maybe that won't fly)'

lol, though maybe the reason Mark can continue to be so positive about pop culture is that he screens a great deal of it out? Hadn't heard of Abi Titmuss till that evening - that's some achievement...

Posted by mark at May 28, 2005 08:13 AM | TrackBack