Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Celebrity spotting

Beyonce and Jay-Z in Phoenix Park

Have you seen that TMZ video in which the presenters are mocking the Irish, saying they probably didn't know who Beyonce and Jay-Z were because they went out and about in Phoenix park without being bothered by locals?

A lot of people in Ireland took offence, and rightly so. The thing is, I think the celebrity culture in this country is a lot different than in the USA for example. Here, personalities seem to be able to walk around the city without being hassled. 

Ireland being quite a small country, you're bound to bump into an Irish celebrity while doing your shopping anyway. I saw Keith Duffy in a furniture shop once, I nearly had a drink with Brian McFadden (well, not really but he was at the next table and we do have a friend in common). I also had a conversation AND took a picture with Dermot Whelan (Maybe you don't know who he is but he has a Wikipedia page so it HAS to count!).

If you're Irish, there's a also a good chance you're related to a celebrity. Do you know the concept of the 6 degrees of separation? In theory, each person in the world is on average six steps away  from one another by way of acquaintances. I firmly believe that, in Ireland, there are no more than 3 degrees...

So for me, there's an element of "normality" in the way celebrities are perceived in this country. And that's also because most of Irish famous people act normally, do their shopping in Tesco and drink in their local pub. Irish people seem to be used to see celebrities around, whether is just an Irish TV presenter or and American Pop Star. They just  don't want to bother them and they respect their privacy.

But you know, maybe some people didn't recognise Beyonce in the park. After all, I wouldn't expect her to sit next to me in the playground and start to chat about the terrible two's... Sometimes you can see someone in the street. You KNOW you've seen him somewhere but can't pinpoint where exactly. And an hour later, you realise it was on TV... Sometimes you even start talking to him, and you STILL don't recognise him (even if he's one of the biggest star on the planet).

Take my husband, for example. He had been in Ireland for a couple of months and one evening, went to the local pub with some friends.
He went to  order the drinks and started  a casual chat with another customer at the bar. 

The conversation went a bit like this:

Man: Hi, how are you?
Fabrice: Not too bad, how are you?
Man: Grand, where are you from ?
(He probably asked that because let's face it, there were not many coloured people in that village at the time...)
Fabrice: Mauritius
Man: Mauritius? That's far away... I heard it's a beautiful country
Fabrice: Yes it is. Have you ever been there?
Man: No, not yet
Fabrice: You know, it's very expensive, especially hotels
Man: Yes, I know, maybe one day...
Fabrice: Well, if you want to go, just let me know. I have family and friends over there, I can arrange something for you. You won't even have to pay for a hotel!
Man: That's very kind of you 
Fabrice: No problem!
Man: It was nice to meet you. By the way, I didn't even introduce myself. I'm Bono
Fabrice: I'm Fabrice. It was nice meeting you.  See you...
Bono: Bye!

So my husband went back to his seat where all his friends had their eyes and mouth wide open.

Fabrice: What's up?
Friends: Erh, did you talk to that guy at the bar?
Fabrice: Yes, why ?
Friends: You know it's Bono, right ?
Fabrice: Yes, he told me his name was Bono, why?
Friends: Hello...! It's BONO from U2 ???!!
Fabrice: Holy sh*t... I didn't even recognise him...

After that he felt so ashamed he didn't even go back to ask for a picture, an autograph or even his phone number, you know, in case he could find him a good deal on a  holiday to Mauritius...