It’s hard to believe that the boom-time obsession with spas hasn’t gone away. Glossy mags, weekend supplements and the provincial press are still plugging these idiotic, aery-faery dens of self-gratification, a hangover from what already looks like the tackiest bygone era in history.
We’re already well into the first year of a new decade, and a more circumspect era, you’d think. I had hoped most of the detestable things about the noughties (Ireland’s answer to the south of England’s Thatcher era) would have dissipated like the fads they were. I should say, it’s certainly not that the noughties were all bad – let’s face it, any decade that began with The Gray Twins, David and Macy, as its biggest selling musical artists had really nowhere to go but up.
But it did herald the worst extremes of lame, low culture – not just the obsession with self-pampering, but the lamentable cult of non-celebrities taking up magazine space where actual celebrities would be, were there any actual celebrities.
Talk about a needing a different type of guide to Ireland’s most pampered ‘spas’. I’m not going to go on about talentless, fame-seeking amateur performers here (I’ll do that as soon as X Factor returns); what wound me up, and continues to provoke nothing but anger, resentment and a sense of utter hopelessness for humanity in me, are those glossy Social Pages. You know, that collection of effortfully similar-looking women who must be photographed at the opening of anything-you-care-to-not-care-about, holding a sponsored glass of something fizzy and dizzying in their manicured fists.
I actually thought there might at least be a hint of recessionary humility creeping into the backs of these magazine, but no. Even alleged ‘charidee’ bashes still routinely involve vulgar, devil-may-give-a-fig displays of opulence, as the embarrassingly dolled-up and oranged scramble for free things and party like it’s 2006. All in front of a photographer, of course, otherwise what would be the point?
And what aggravates me even more is the way these people are named and numbered completely free of any context; sure, there’s Aisling Blagh and Maura Bleeurgh grinning away at the SilverSpoonGob Glitterfluff Handbag Awards – but who the fuck are they?
Today, the papers were full of photos from so-called ‘Ladies’ Day’ at the Galway Races. (Incidentally, what do women think about the word ‘ladies’ – shouldn’t it be ‘women’s’?) How many embarrassing displays can you fit in to one event? Never mind my views on horse racing here for now, but trying to add ‘glamour’ to a vulgar, seedy, animal-baiting, money-obsessed, sleazy corporate event shows just our dark our age still is.
Of course, publishers obviously feel they need such people to sell their glossy comics and if it’s predominantly women who buy them wanting to see just how ‘amazing’ other women look at horse meetings, nightclub openings and charity drinking events, it’s probably not my place to argue. However, I get the distinct feeling that a small minority of people with vested interests is dictating the social status quo – and too many are simply too apathetic to question it.