"Fame, it's not your brain, it's just the flame,
That burns your change to keep you insane. Fame"
Whilst these quotes are typical of the sort of thing Jodie
writes about herself, they offer the barest glimpse of the ego displayed in
her blogs. What they can't convey is the sheer volume of the bragging. This
sort of self-regarding puff makes up a good third of the content and, while
confidence is a good thing in a young woman, you have to wonder about
someone who needs to relentlessly tell the world how fabulous they are, to
the tune of thousands of words a day. It is hard not to come away with the
words 'protesteth too much' rattling round your head.
Of course Jodie doesn't just want to tell us how wonderful
is. No, one of the other functions of the blog is to tell us how
is. It is a life of superlatives - best, biggest, most - she
sets new benchmarks every time she walks through the door. After a few days
of work she is 'the most tired anyone has ever been'; the film crew tell her
that she is 'the most professional celeb they have ever worked with' and
that the job has been 'the most fun ever'.
On and on the bragging goes: her
amazing house, fantastic friends, stellar connections, loving family,
Perhaps most astonishing though, is the way she manages to boast for England
whilst simultaneously wallowing in self-pity.
It is impossible to discuss Marsh without reference to her
'traumatic past'; almost all her blogs allude to it in one way or another.
It shouldn't be any surprise to anyone that, in the 21st
century, the sight of a young woman trying to build a career out of
pandering to the most Neanderthal aspects of masculinity is likely to also
attract considerable flak; most glamour models accept that it's par for the
course, and either ignore it or laugh it off. But it appears that this was
something Marsh was not expecting, and was certainly not going to take lying
down. Suddenly we were presented with another aspect of this multi-faceted
celebrity: Jodie Marsh - victim. Suddenly we were being told that Marsh
wasn't out there, parading around in her pants, because she was essentially
shallow and vain. No, it was all about empowerment and getting back at the
"bullies" who had called her ugly and made her schooldays a living hell. And
Jodie's tragic past didn't stop there, oh no. Her life had also been
darkened by immense loss: her 'best friend' Kim, murdered by a violent
boyfriend and (forever to be bracketed together by the inimitable Jodie) the
death of her little dog Pixie just a week later.
Now I am no stranger to loss and hardship myself: I had to
bury my son, Theo, and my brother-in-law, Simon, within a couple of months
of each other, and had another child diagnosed as profoundly and irrevocably
disabled in the same period. I have had my share of ups and downs and some
of the dark times have been very dark indeed. I also, in general, don't
particularly judge other people's traumas against my own; I don't believe in
a hierarchy of grief - it's all relative (although Marsh's insistence that
the loss of her dog was 'like losing a baby' does grate somewhat. How,
exactly, would the childless Ms Marsh know?). But I do know that I have
never used what has happened to me as a way to excuse behaviour that would
otherwise be inexcusable, or to shield myself from criticism (deserved or
undeserved). Jodie's book 'Keeping it Real' tells us that following the
deaths she spoke at Kim's funeral, reading out a poem that her father had
originally written - in memory of the dog. She
also got a tattoo with the names 'Kim' and 'Pixie' intertwined on the back
of her neck. I surely can't be the only person who finds that offensive in
the extreme? If someone I knew had tattooed Theo's name and the name of
their dead pet together, I would be insulted beyond belief.
I don't care how much of an animal lover you are; to bracket together the
death of a dog with that of a young woman who was a mother, a daughter and a
friend takes insensitivity to new heights. This though is to be
expected of Marsh. To her the deaths are of equal significance because her
relationships with them were of equal significance and, in Marsh-world, her
perspective is the only one that counts. Jodie apparently struggles to
comprehend that other people may see things differently to her; in her eyes
these differing opinions are simply 'wrong'.
Jodie's 'traumatic past' is important because it allows her to
lash out at people, under the guise of 'refusing to lie down and be a victim
anymore'. And she does like to let rip; despite being a representative of an
anti-bullying charity, she thinks nothing of viciously tearing into people
she perceives as having wronged her. Even the mildest criticism can elicit
one of her legendary, bile-filled rants.
Unsurprisingly, Jodie's blogs have inspired quite a following.
The unintentional comedy and thickly layered delusion, along with the
fascinating glimpse into the mind of a z-list celebrity has seen a whole
community of 'anti-fans' grow up. Starting out as a single thread on an
entertainment discussion site, it spawned first a parody site
(jodiemush.co.uk) and then an entire forum. Although only a few months old,
the forum already has nearly 600 members, and is a lively and thriving
community. Interestingly, as the forum has grown, it has become less and
less about Jodie. Members (or 'Mushers' as they call themselves) exchange
recipes, share stories, discuss books and support each other in countless
small ways. The 'non-Jodie' sections of the forum make up the bigger part of
the site by far, but dissecting the blogs (often in bitingly comic style)
remains the common seam that has drawn the members together.
Marsh must be the only celebrity who has actually spawned a verb (to mush)
to describe the action of loathing them.
As you might imagine, the Mushers have become very good at
reading between the lines. Scratch the surface of Marsh's 'most
superlatives EVER!!!!' wittering and a very different picture begins
to emerge. One that is far darker than the fun-filled life that Jodie would
like you to believe in. And here's the problem for Jodie, you see she lies.
A lot. The blogs are filled with exaggerations, contradictions and
bare-faced lies, the scale and arrogance of which is quite breathtaking. For
someone whose autobiography was titled Keeping it Real,
it seems nothing less than a cynical insult to her fans.