Every week, new celebrities add their names to the list of people who have been hacked by British newspapers. As the Leveson inquiry continues in London, many of them are testifying this week. But after what happened to some anonymous families, can we really have sympathy for them?
« I was absolutely crestfallen when the phone-hacking scandal broke here in England and my name wasn’t mentioned once ». This is how Noel Gallagher, best known for being the former impresario of British rock band Oasis, reacted last week, after a list of hacked celebrities was published. Although Gallagher has been known for years for being quite impulsive and for never sparing with big declarations, he might have a point. He might be reassured by what Alan McGee, the former head of Creation Records, who signed Oasis in 1993, suggests: “If I am on the list, then personally I find it impossible to think that people like Noel and Liam [Gallagher, brother of Noel, and former member of Oasis before the group split up in 2009] won’t be too as more names are revealed”.
The phone hacking was thought to be limited to politicians, to the Royal Family and some celebrities up to last July, when it was revealed that the Murdoch based tabloid, News of the World, had illegally listened the phone of the murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, in 2002. These revelations drove the tabloid to close down.“Sense Of Decency”
Since then, there has not been a single week without new revelations on celebrities whose phone’s had been hacked. Actors Jude Law and Hugh Grant, author JK Rowling, comedian Steve Coogan, whose names have been in a list of sixty alleged people, have already or will be testifying this week, in Central London, as the inquiry lead by Lord Justice Leveson continues. This trial is, as Leveson defines it, “not only about the tabloids”, but considers a real issue on the ethics and the practise of the press in general.
Actor Hugh Grant testified on Monday, and seemed rather annoyed at the tabloid The Mail On Sunday, which released a story on in love life in 2007, accusing it to have hacked his voicemail, because it was the only way they could have gotten the information. He also accused The Sun or The Daily Express to have paid hospital staff to get some medical records.
During his testimony, Grant also stated: « No British citizen would expect their medical records to be made public, or to be appropriated by newspapers for commercial profit. I think that’s fundamental to our British sense of decency ».
But what is the most relevant is how some people react to this story. For instance, after Grant’s testimony was reported, CNN news host Piers Morgan shared a tweet, saying: « I do hope Nelson Mandela was watching Hugh Grant today, so he now understands what real persecution is all about ».
The irony from Morgan tweet is certainly the best way to sum up the whole thing. On one hand, we have a family, who learns that journalist were accessing the phone of their dead 12-year-old girl and, on the other hand, we have an annoyed Hollywood movie star complaining because his sex matters were doing the headlines of some tabloids read by inattentive readers sat on the train on their way to work.
And that is also why Noel Gallagher’s reaction is quite funny. When you know the guy, you know he is being quite ironic and shows how ridiculous the celebrities’ reactions are. By saying “I’m not even worthy to have my fucking phone hacked. And Steve Coogan is. It is fucking over », Gallagher stresses on the ego aspect of the celebrities, who, certainly, are not that unhappy about being targeted by the tabloids. Come on, what is better than a little publicity, a good excuse to go to court (meaning to get some easy money out of it) and to be reassured on your popularity rate?
The McCains Heard This Wednesday
But there are not only celebrities who are looking for some light out of this very dark issue. After the celebs talked earlier this week, a new aspect on the inquiry came up on Wednesday when the McCanns, the parents of Madeleine, reported missing in 2007, came to the hearings in London to share their experience of the media. The couple has been in many magazine covers these last four years, because their story was so sympathetic. A little girl disappeared, it could have happened to any parent. Then, other elements came up and the nice and pathetic couple became the irresponsible parents, accused of hiding the accidental murder of their own daughter and in a race for fame. They talked about the harassment they were victims of during this time although it is not the first time they speak of the “frustration”. They also specified that this important involvement of the media certainly did not help in the process of finding their daughter. Not only have the McCanns been very fond of the media, they also released a book last May, called Madeleine. Everybody remembers how the McCanns haters called to fraud when the book came out – but nevertheless, the couple perfectly illustrates the feeling that wriggles out of all of this. They stick in the middle. They are not celebrities but are famous, and they strongly feel the media are responsible for the multiple failed attempts to find their girl. They are understood by some and hated by others. But still, their story is more heartbreaking than a hypothetic hanky-panky between two actors.
The celebrities should try to step aside for once, and not consider themselves victims. Sure, their testimony might be useful and it can help the Leveson inquiry to come to a fair end. If it is the case, that would be a great achievement. If not, well, who doubts they will go back to their peaceful and luxurious life, with only fearing to be heard in the case of some “forbidden” phone calls.