Icons of our time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 February, 1997, 12:00am

Name: The Micro Celebrity.

As in: The presenters who scrape together a living working on local English language television.

Age: With the exception of newsreaders (who will escape the searing cynicism of the next 400 words), under 35 is generally the rule.

Nationality: Varies.

Motivation: To achieve a degree of 'celebrity' that somehow compensates for being paid ludicrously bad money, having to work with production staff who couldn't give a damn about the English-language product, and, generally speaking, having to make a complete and utter plonker of themselves every time they pop up between adverts for abdominal firmers.

Of course, they don't think they're making plonkers of themselves. In fact, one of the prime requirements for 'micro celeb' is a skin so thick an Exocet missile couldn't penetrate it.

And so our would-be stars continue to preen and pout against tacky backdrops, hang around hideous socialites in the hope of being recognised, and pray that one day they'll be stopped in a bar by someone who miraculously figures out who they are and doesn't attempt to punch their lights out.

Classics of the genre (1): The best wannabe is the one who operates either on the principle that any publicity is good publicity, or is simply too stupid to understand irony and religiously cuts out every review and press comment (no matter how excoriating) and proudly pins it up on the notice board next to a social picture of them and society strumpet Pokey Poon at a club launch.

(2): The ultimate goal, of course, is to make it as a proper 'star' of film or pop. And our wannabe will do anything that might further this aim - even to the extent of appearing in those oh-so-infuriating promos that TVB in particular seems to think will actually make someone watch a mega movie.

Closely related to: Deejays (especially those who double up at nightclubs and talk over the records they're playing) and newspaper columnists who use the word 'I' more than eight times in a sentence.

Part-time jobs: The biggest and best opportunity to see the micro celeb at work away from the small screen comes when a PR firm decides it can't afford a Chinese pop star or movie star to help launch a product and instead invites an English-language channel presenter along to emcee an event.

Exceptions to the rule: Sadly these are few and far between. But every now and then someone works out that the gift of cameramen, directors and even producers with a shaky command of English is one sent from heaven. Because that enables the cunning English-language presenter to say and do things on screen that no one should ever be able to get away with. Sadly though, this is a rare occurrence.