Oh dear. Everyone's favourite rent-a-snob has been at it again. Another appearance on ITV's This Morning is followed by another predictably manufactured outrage at her comments. Poor Katie Hopkins (who, for reasons of brevity, I will henceforth refer to as KH, which happily makes her sound more like the brand she endeavours to become. With luck she might bring out a perfume for Christmas; “KH – Scent of a Sloane – slightly unpleasant,instantly forgettable”). Her crime this time has been to suggest that there’s nothing wrong with missing your kids’ birthdays whilst simultaneously taking a swipe at Mumsnet, calling them the “mammary militia” which, you have to admit, is quite funny (though not as funny as the Mumsnet website itself, which is an unwitting masterclass in social satire).
KH has brightened up a dull summer no end. There appears to be no subject upon which she doesn’t have an ill-informed opinion which she is ready to share at the first ring of a TV producer’s phone; whether it’s the wisdom of giving your child an idiotic first name, something on which she is, unusually, actually qualified to comment on, or the shape and size of the nation’s sweetheart Kelly Brookes’ figure, which she isn’t.
A quick perusal of KH’s Twitter account after her latest comments reveals a barrage of 147 character Neanderthal sycophancy from people who clearly shouldn’t know better, the basic thrust of which is that our Katie is the voice of good old fashioned British common sense, all of which conveniently misses the fact that common sense has historically often been a sop to ignorance and bigotry. Just 100 years ago it was common sense that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote; 600 years ago it was common sense that the sun revolved around the earth; go back even further in time and it was common sense that the earth was flat…well, you get the idea.
The flip side to all this one-eyed support is the equally vacuous outrage directed at KH – are her comments really worth a series of ridiculously over the top splenetic Op Ed pieces in the Guardian or the Indy or Britain’s favourite the Sun decrying her class snobbery? Indeed, are her comments really worth pieces like this one? The answer is an obvious and emphatic no, but then to focus solely on the content of her mildly offensive comments is to miss the point. Everything about KH is manufactured and manipulated in order to, on one side, increase veiwing figures or sell more copy, and on the other, to expand her media profile which leads to more TV appearances with their calculatedly media-friendly “outragous” comments which leads to increased viewing figures and more copy sold, which leads to a higher media profile which leads to more TV appearances which leads to increased viewing figures…it’s a highly lucrative feedback loop for all involved. Picture the scene: it’s the middle of summer, there’s not much going on that’s remotely newsworthy and there is TV airtime that needs to be filled. So a producer on This Morning rings up KH’s agent and asks if she’d like to appear on the show. KH says something suitably outragous, This Morning becomes newsworthy, columnists get something to vent their spleens about and last but by no means least KH get a nice fee and plenty of coverage in the papers. Everyone’s a winner.
In an age of saturated 24 hour media coverage and newspaper online comment forums a pantomime villain like KH would have to be invented if she didn’t already exist because if there’s one thing we insist upon today it’s the right to be offended. We love it, revel in it, and we work ourselves up into a self-righteous frenzy over the half-baked opinions of a fuckwit. It’s like a real life version of Orwell’s 2 minute hate.
The story behind KH’s attempt to establish a media profile and thus a career is a salutory, if unedifying, one. There doesn’t appear to be anything particularly posh about her background which seems to be solidly middle class, so she simply reinvented herself. Nothing wrong with that. But her career trajectory since the Apprentice in 2007 has been conducted with the connivance, consious or otherwise, of the media, the same media which now convulses with mock horror at each of her childishly provocative pontifications, which are little more than cliched epater le bourgeoisie posturing. After the Apprentice came an appearance on I’m a Celebrity, not to mention being photographed shagging a married man in a field. And so KH has been able to establish a certain public persona, through which she can maximise her earnings potential via a series of orchestrated “media scandals”. But here’s the rub. KH is patently nowhere near as smart as she thinks she is, and the shelflife of a low grade micro celebrity is remarkable only for it’s brevity. She’s had a decent run this year, but her schtick is subject to the law of diminishing returns, and her reliability for a controversial statement will quickly be greeted not by howls of outrage in the Guardian but by yawns from everybody.
“Oh look, Katie Hopkins is on the telly again.”
“oh, right. Cup of tea dear?”
It’s hard to say where she will go when this happens. She will doubtless manage to somehow eke out a living on some obscure satellite channel hosting a late night freak talk show with other has-beens and never-weres, used and then spat out by the ravenous media maw that begat them. There is nothing unique or original about KH; she is just the latest in a long line of a peculiar female stereotype stretching back to Fanny Craddock by way of Thatcher, Edwina Curry and Christina Hamilton, the sexual fantasy figures for a generation of middle aged public school-educated men for whom the ghost of matron forever haunts their wet dreams.