Island Life by David Slack


An appetite for scandal

You can rail all you like at the media for putting Millie Holmes front and centre in their bulletins, but the stats don't lie. Look at the most-read stories on the Herald website this morning.

Number 1: Family devastated by Millie's drug charges: Holmes (+photos)

And at Number 3 (with a bullet?):

Holmes' daughter to contest drugs charges.

Maybe the news is being read with more sympathy than schadenfreude, but it pays to be realistic. Wherever you travel, they have an expression for this kind of thing. The Brazilians have a proverb: Pimenta nos olhos dos outros é refresco : The pepper in somebody else's eyes is refreshing. My Finnish neighbour will know more about this, but apparently his people have an expression: "schadenfreude is the purest joy, since it doesn't include a bit of envy".

Perhaps, nevertheless, people feel sympathy, as Paul Holmes hopes we do, when he reminds us that being the parent of a teenager is no easy thing. What we are seeing here is the full price of a magazine cover. If you're offered up as the virtual neighbour about whom the whole country knows every little thing - from the colour of the bib little Reuben wore for the first photo op, and all the way on up - whatever effort you might make to delineate your own celebrity from that of your family, the barrier will always be porous and, when the police come calling, completely meaningless.

The most meaning to be taken from this story comes in the words of the district court judge who reminded the media how thoroughly commonplace and unremarkable the case was. This is where Holmes' remarks - exceptional though his own daughter's circumstances may be - have some pertinence. How thrilled are you about the possiblity of your own teenager having fun with P?

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