There’s nothing guaranteed to generate less sympathy for a celebrity than to hear them moaning about the dreadful treatment they have received at the hands of the very media who made them famous in the first place.
And you might have thought that after taking three years before finally being allowed by the royal family’s communications department to talk to the media, Pippa Middleton might just have been aware that this would be one self-set trap she should take great care to avoid walking into.
It’s a shame, then, that the alpha line to emerge from her much-ballyhooed interview with Matt Lauer of the uncritical Today program, broadcast in two parts on NBC yesterday and today, was that she felt ‘publicly bullied’ by untrue stories written about in her in the papers.
Quizzed by Lauer on whether she had faced criticism on social media sites and online, she said: “It’s hard sometimes because I have felt publicly bullied a little bit just by, you know, when I read things that clearly aren’t true or that, whichever way someone looks at it, it’s a negative side.
“It is quite difficult. Because effectively I’m just paving my way and trying to live a life like any 30-year-old.”
And yes, she managed to keep a straight face while she said that.
Pippa then said, “I think people feel they can say something about you online or on a web page when they would never say it to your face but they think that’s okay. It’s been difficult.”
Has it been difficult, my dear? Has it?
Tell us more.
Actually, save it, because there’s nothing worse than celebrities picking up six figure contracts for badly written books (who could forget Pippa’s immortal advice that turkeys are perfect for feeding ‘larger gatherings’) and ‘Vanity Fair’ columns of only partial orignality, who seem to be on holiday every other weekend, telling the rest of us how mean people are to them on twitter.
While I do have some sympathy for Pippa’s argument that she did not set out to be famous—she said in the interview that she did not intend to steal the show at the wedding, and that her dress was supposed to be ‘insignificant’ and blend in and I do not doubt her—there can be little doubt that when Mr Fame came knocking, Pippa invited him in for a cup of tea and a sit down with astonishing alacrity and enthusiasm.
But she tried to do something else—get all the benefits of fame without disclosing anything of herself.
Let’s just remind ourselves here of George’s reaction when Jerry tells him that he and Elaine are going to remain friends but just enjoy a bit of ‘the other’ on the side in the Seinfeld episode ‘The Deal’.
George tells his friend, "Where are you living? Are you here? Are you on this planet? It's impossible. It can't be done. Thousands of years people have been trying to have their cake and eat it too. So all of a sudden the two of you are going to come along and do it. Where do you get the ego? No one can do it. It can't be done."
In this day and age, being a celebrity who gives nothing away is just about as feasible as Jerry and Elaine’s friends-with-benefits deal.
The real reason her book failed, one literary insider opined to me this week, was that no-one had a clear sense of who she was, so it was impossible to identify with her.
“Pippa’s book showed that you can’t be famous for just one thing—or, in this case, two things; being the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister and having a nice bum—and expect people to buy into you. Who is Pippa? We never knew.”
The book deal was one thing, but the frankly pathetic series of columns she has since written for the Daily Telegraph (axed after six months) and VF which have seen her reduced to dressing up in silly outfits take the biscuit.
Alarmingly, Pippa told Lauer that ‘the plan’ was to continue her writing career.
Why? Writing is a lonely, anti-social business, best performed in a draughty garret, not a South kensington flat bought for you by your parents. Even if you are fortunate enough to occasionally produce a book that is halfway decent, it’s still a form of drudgery.
As the mighty New Yorker editor David Remnick says in an interview, "More writers than I would have imagined – I think they’re being honest – protest that they hate writing. They don’t like writing. It’s painful. It’s all those things that you’ve heard. I didn’t realize it ran as deep or as wide."
But when you end up after all that work by producing instructions on how to make ice? How must that feel? The mind boggles.
Maybe she’s only doing it for the money. This is a reasonable carrot, any author would agree. Samuel Johnson, no less, once noted that money was the only motivation he ever had to write, and was said to have remarked , "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."
And, certainly, Pippa has been covered in gold for her efforts—but she could be making far more cash following her true vocation as a party planner.
For Pippa is the quintessential party planner.
Friends have told me that Pippa was a brilliant party organizer. So why the hell doesn’t she just move to New York or LA and become the society party planner du jour? She would make plenty of money and get to mingle with other celebrities who might be more indulgent when it came to her complaints about the media than the rest of us.
So why the hell is she trying so hard to be a writer?
The answer, I think, is because Pippa still doesn’t really understand that her literary success has come only because she is the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, and has a famous bottom.
Pippa doesn’t get that she is just another celebrity. She is clearly laboring under the delusion—presumably fostered by agents, lawyers and Graydon Carter, who must share some of the blame—that she is some kind of conduit for a specific brand of modern, sassy, British womanhood. God help the royal family if ‘the plan’ to which she mysteriously referred in her Lauer interview is some kind of novel. It could be even worse than Fergie’s kid’s book, Budgie.
The irony is that Pippa’s fame—the motor of her literary success—has, in recent months, started to fade. Talk to any newspaper or website editor, and they will tell you that while Pippa stories still do well, they don’t get the insane traffic they were generating as recently as a year ago.
Royalty has no sell-by date. But Pippa is not a royal. What her interview with Lauer proves beyond all reasonable doubt is that she is actually just another celebrity.