Due to Prince Harry’s book ‘Spare’, more celebrity-penned books such as self-help books are being published and critiqued online. Emma Robinson shares what she thinks makes celebrity memoirs irrelevant.
Prince Harry’s book earned a huge amount of controversy online, mainly on the basis that he often blamed the press- suggesting that he is out of touch with reality because he doesn’t acknowledge that it is his “status which makes him a target”. A good celebrity memoir shows humility and honesty despite success, because no one wants to read the life story of someone who is ignorant of their privilege.
In my opinion, it is unnecessary for social media influencers to release memoirs in their twenties. Much of the significant parts of their lives have not yet been lived yet. Furthermore, the influencer’s job is to discuss their lifestyle choices online, therefore releasing a memoir feels slightly pointless. Their fans will be the target audience to buy the book, yet it is just repeating what the readers will already know from following them.
I struggle to find any genuine justification for influencers releasing a book which isn’t a cash grab. For example, Love Island star Molly-Mae is one of the most significant influencers in the media today. In June 2022 she published her memoir titled ‘Becoming Molly Mae’. With the memoir recounting information many of her readers already knew about her, the book received criticism, with her career advice being described as “bogus”.
In my opinion, influencers have a slightly disoriented view of reality in general because their livelihoods consist of posting specifically curated online content that will gain attention- and is often a romanticised version of their actual lives. This then sours social media influencers’ memoirs because it projects a lack of self-awareness. A memoir should be earnest and vulnerable and not something that constantly reaffirms the success of the influencer. When Molly-Mae tells her fans to “hustle” harder in order to succeed, this shows naivete. This is perhaps reflected in her age (23), but also by having a lack of self-awareness about her own privilege.
Age is an important factor in writing a memoir
Molly Mae is not the first social media influencer to release a memoir in her twenties. British YouTuber Tanya Burr published ‘Love, Tanya’ in 2015, and Canadian influencer Lilly Singh released ‘How to be a Bawse’ in 2017, amongst other influencers. Despite these memoirs being arguably successful then I would say that they are now irrelevant, again suggesting that they were mainly an efficient way to make money at the time.
So, who is qualified to release a memoir? I think that any celebrity who has lived a life and is sincere in their storytelling is suitable. Former first lady Michelle Obama released her memoir ‘Becoming’ in 2017. It has been described as being an “extraordinarily candid account of her life”. Michelle Obama is an example of a figure who intrigues a larger scope of readers because of her former position of power. Her memoir brings a level of humanity to a seemingly untouchable figure of The First Lady. Age is an important factor in writing a memoir as it offers a level of hindsight and experience that younger people do not have yet.
Matthew Perry recently released his memoir ‘Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.’ He talks about his experience with addiction during and after he filmed Friends. Although he is not currently in the limelight, the book received a huge amount of success- the Daily Mail has credited that it might just save lives. He did not glamorise his life, or brag about his success- it was candid, and I did not feel that there was an ulterior motive of trying to revive his former stardom, whilst reading.
Furthermore, I think that sometimes social media influencers normalise the view that people in their twenties have even enough material to even write an autobiography in the first place. I have just turned twenty and I do not feel I could write even one chapter of a memoir, never mind a whole book.
Memoirs and celebrity books are not tiresome if the authors approach them without an inflated ego
When I read Comedian Bob Mortimer’s autobiography ‘And Away’, I felt a level of comfort as he did not discover stand-up comedy until he was in his thirties. He also offered advice to the reader by learning from his mistakes, regarding how he felt his lack of confidence somewhat held him back. He did not put himself on a pedestal by only recalling what he did right in life and as a result, his likeability was only increased as a result of the memoir.
Therefore, I think that memoirs and celebrity books are not tiresome if the authors approach them without an inflated ego, but with humility and honesty. Readers can tell when something is released for the purpose of being a quick way to make money- and typically this is reflected in the short-livingness of the book’s success.
Social media influencers realistically do not need to release a memoir of their life when it is already online. It is like when a sequel is made on the back of the previous movie’s success- it is often disappointing with a lack of a solid story. Young influencers simply do not have enough material to write a well-thought-out memoir or autobiography.
Featured image courtesy of Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.
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