How to be an uncelebrated celebrity

Being a South African celebrity is a bit like being a blowfish in a goldfish bowl. Your audience has a seven-second attention span and you’re responsible for inflating your own ego. And once your fans have fed off you, they feel mildly poisoned.

When did celebrity become a synonym for notorious? The grotesquely inane “celebrities” we’re lumbered with in this country have forgotten that the word “celebrity” is supposed to indicate that you’ve achieved renown in some way. And not by having your labia photographed leading you out of the back of a limo, either. A way which actually adds value to the world that you’re feeding off like a remora.

A case in point is the unlikely named Crystal Arnold, who is apparently a SuperSport presenter. Crystal (it would feel a little creepy talking about Arnold’s breasts) made what she terms a “career choice” by electing to “grace” the cover of South African Playboy magazine. Again, her words.

In what world is appearing topless, for free, in a magazine that’s doomed (the circulation of the United States edition of Playboy dropped 34% last year), a way to further your career as a sports presenter? Is this how Naas Botha made it onto the small screen?

It would be fine if Crystal was doing it because she likes getting her tits out for the lads. Hey, your body, your life, no person should be telling you what you can or can’t do with your own body. But when your nudity is dressed up in the spurious legitimation of faux feminist liberation it becomes an insult to the many women who have fought so that Crystal can have the right to show her body whenever she wants to.

The reason Crystal is appearing topless in Playboy is apparently a revolutionary one. To liberate all the cute intellectuals of the world.

“I have ventured into this opportunity… because I believe in the statement an empowered woman can make through both intellect and the physical. I think beauty and brains need not be seen as separate entities, both should be celebrated in every woman. Like Beyoncé sings: ‘Who run the world — Girls!'”

Wow, Crystal, what an insight! You can be clever AND beautiful. Belgian philosopher Luce Irigaray thanks you, as do the other feminist girls. How is it empowering to make the cover of a magazine by doing it for free? Surely stripping your top off on live TV to protest the fact that there’s actually a reality programme called Lady Rugga would be more intelligent?

Celebritydom isn’t about having people discussing what an idiot you are, or what wise nipples you have. It’s about doing something that gives you renown with longevity. When they told you burning your bra was a sign of liberation, they didn’t mean doing it in a bar full of leering men.

The irony, of course, is that in the world of televised sport, where coverage is heavily skewed in favour of male sport, this should be a good career move. But it’ll never make you celebrated.

  • Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisroperza, or visit his blog

  • Subscribe to the M&G

    These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

    The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

    Chris Roper
    Chris Roper

    Chris Roper was editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian from July 2013 - July 2015.

    Related stories

    Digital pioneer whose kindness stood out

    Matthew Buckland, 1974-2019

    CNN obtains Trump-Cohen affair hush money tape

    The tape was secretly recorded by Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen two months before the 2016 election

    How Hugh Hefner’s world helped Donald Trump get into the White House

    Male voters may have felt “oppressed” by political correctness as much as Hefner’s followers felt trampled by the imperative to marry.

    Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner dead at 91

    Hugh Hefner, the Playboy founder and the star of the reality show "The Girls Next Door," has died, Playboy said Wednesday.

    Playboy drops nude pictures, can’t compete in digital pornography age

    Playboy magazine will stop publishing "passe" pictures of fully nude women, as part of a new strategy to stem falling circulation.

    Christianity is the enemy of Christianity

    Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's call for religion to influence the laws that govern the country could lead to the oppression of other religions.

    Subscribers only

    Toxic power struggle hits public works

    With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

    Free State branches gun for Ace

    Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

    More top stories

    Vitamin therapy is for drips

    It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

    Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

    Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

    Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

    Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

    Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

    Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence

    press releases

    Loading latest Press Releases…

    The best local and international journalism

    handpicked and in your inbox every weekday