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August 2 2014

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free speech: hadley freeman on peaches geldof coming to america

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Peaches is coming! Peaches is coming! America, I come riding to you like Paul Revere, to warn you of the incoming invasion. But, unlike the threat Paul was giving you the heads-up on, I worry that you might not be able to fight against this one. As you may or may not have heard, Peaches Geldof will soon be gracing New York with her presence. God bless this transatlantic exchange: You give us Madonna, we give you Mel B; you give us Gwyneth Paltrow, we give you Simon Cowell. One man’s trash is another man’s, um, something. How marvelous. Anyway, you might think that you’re perfectly used to living in the near proximity of the attention-grabbing progeny of someone who was once famous. Americans, you have no idea. Yes, sure, you might have your Carnie Wilsons and your Sean Lennons. But in America, famous people’s kids tend to have done something themselves to merit at least a sliver of the attention they believe is their due. In England, we don’t care about such things. This is a country that still has a royal family; we believe in the power of birth and lineage. Yes, you guys have Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, but at least they were once on a TV show. We have Kimberly Stewart. I sneeze on your Paris and Nicole.

I like to think of it as almost a tradition, really: We hand over the most random hodgepodge of celebrities for y’all to sample; sometimes they manage to blind you with the accent and sometimes they don’t, and you can’t predict who will be able to pull it off and who won’t. Take (astonishingly) Piers Morgan, who in his native country was a sacked tabloid editor with an embarrassing hunger for self-promotion. Yet in America, for some unknown reason, he seems to have been accepted as a spotter of talent. Similarly, America embraced soppy singer Natasha Bedingfield but rejected the annoying but actually pretty talented Robbie Williams. Happily, Oasis went down a similar dumpster when they went stateside, so there is occasionally method to the madness.

But back to Peaches, who is quite a little bundle of zeitgeistness. What does she do? Well, she hangs out with London’s resident well-connected designers, PPQ. She’s part of a DJ collective (of course she is) called Trash Pussy. She recently got married in Vegas—not to her boyfriend, who was waiting for her back in London thinking she’d just gone on a short vacation, but to someone called Max Drummey, who’s in a band called Chester French. Her occasional bouts of TV show “presenting,” as we call it over here, have prompted literally hundreds of hate-filled Internet chat rooms. Yet London remains fascinated by her. This is partly due to the aforementioned bloodline thing, which seems to enthrall the British press much more than it does the American. But it may also be because there are far more celebrities in the U.S., so in the U.K. we have to make do with the grumpy few we have and the occasional “tired and emotional” child of a sixties rocker, i.e. the continuing and improbable interest in any offspring born of the Rolling Stones. And Kimberly Stewart. Have I mentioned her already?

Another factor in this rather lurid fascination with the spawn of has-been stars is that the British are far more interested in people who, to use a libel-free euphemism, “behave badly” than you seem to be in the States. This may be because the British papers are less concerned with verifiable facts than their American counterparts, and more excited by making risqué innuendos about people who probably won’t sue (hence the phenomenon known as Pete Doherty). The progeny of former rock stars are good game for this, simply because the media tends to assume they all grew up in a house blanketed in snow, if you see what I mean. Which is why I’m quite interested to see what happens when Peaches begins her American sojourn. She’ll be coming from a city where she’s considered A-list and her father is basically a deified saint. And she’ll now be somewhere where her face is not her ticket and her dad is pretty much an unknown. Will she self-combust? Or will she surprise us all and triumph? Peaches, don’t worry. Even if those Americans don’t know a good thing when they see it, I guarantee you there will be some British reality TV crew following you on your travels. So whatever happens, it won’t be a total waste of time.

Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

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  1. Islandista says:

    Hilarity, thy name is Hadley Freeman. Loved your column in the Guardian when I was living in the UK, thrilled to see that you are now on style.com.

    Hailing from the other side of the Atlantic, I too was amazed at how low the bar of celebrity was when I moved to the UK. *whispers* Jade Goody anyone?

    What amazed me more was that Brits were amazed at my amazement – as if they had just presumed that these people were known the world over.

    So Peaches Geldof is ‘coming to America’ eh? Surely Pixie can’t be far behind… I quiver.

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