15 minutes of maybe

Written by Tom Freeman on 2 July 2014 in Comment

The contribution of fictional characters and celebrities to the independence debate

The UK Education Secretary called X-Factor guru Simon Cowell the “principle prophet of the cult of celebrity” last year, in what newspapers described as a ‘withering attack’.

Of course in reality, unlike traditionalist Tory Michael Gove, newspapers love Cowell. The formidable PR machine accompanying his various lucrative talent shows provides overworked journalists with pages of pre-written content about his products, whether the disposable contestants or the judges who rely on him to keep their celebrity flame burning.

When the prophet speaks on independence then, there is no doubt it is newsworthy. In Edinburgh yesterday Cowell said he would feel “quite sad” if Scotland left the union, but assured fans X-Factor would still audition fame-hungry warblers in an independent Scotland.

Last week Game of Thrones actor Rose Leslie came out in support of Better Together. “We are in a very strong position right now,” she said.

David Bowie famously told Scotland to stay in union via supermodel Kate Moss.

Yes Scotland paraded a number of celebrity supporters when it was launched at a multiplex cinema in 2012.

At least Cowell, Leslie and Bowie are real people. As both sides drum up celebrity support to add some x factor to their campaigns, the use of fictional characters is perhaps a barrel scraped too far. Better Together have been delightedly tweeting the support of Shrek, in the form of actor Mike Myers, a Holywood star whose sole qualification is he has done a Scottish accent in a couple of films.

This follows the ‘revelation’ of a split in the Muppets, as Kermit came out as very pro-union while Miss Piggy saw independence as an opportunity to further her own megalomania. Papers were quick to announce Frodo’s support for independence, only for Elijah Wood to confess he’d thought the question was about independent cinema. Harry Potter meanwhile hopes the UK stays together.

If James Doohan was still alive you can be sure he’d have been on the front page of the papers in recent times. Not because he stormed the beaches during D-day, but because he was known for performing an awful Scots accent on Star Trek. Of course, Scotty the character is yet to be born. Will his birth in Linlithgow in 2222 be in an independent Scotland?

Celebrities such as authors JK Rowling and Irvine Welsh have composed thoughtful contributions to the ongoing debate, but championing the words of fictional characters surely dumbs down a conversation the whole of Scotland is politically engaged in. Perhaps the lack of facts in the debate has led people to seek answers from the catharsis of fiction, or maybe it’s just spin. Anyway, are celebrities the best people to get us talking about the big questions in life?

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