How to wear denim this summer
T here was a time when theirs were the faces on many a magazine cover, offering step-by-step accounts of their lives in the famous and fabulously wealthy fast lane.
Seldom did a week elapse without a glimpse of his ice-blue eyes and her make-up-pasted features. But then that video emerged and the duo who had so carefully crafted an image as South Africa’s very own Posh and Becks swiftly descended into caricatures of present-day Khloe and Lamar instead.
A series of mud-slinging matches, played out within range of the media’s ever-watchful eye, followed. But when news broke of his incurable illness, the couple decided to clean up their act and play nice.
Since then, reports pertaining to Joost van der Westhuizen and Amor Vittone have mostly been peppered with feel-good sentiments. Until now.
The high court decision to dismiss Joost’s urgent application to prevent a tell-all book about his marriage from being published has raised a number of key debates: whether two people who so willingly coveted the spotlight when it suited their agenda to do so, can now realistically plead privacy, for one.
(For those not in the know, Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann ruled that “(Joost) falls into the category of celebrities who can no longer expect that their private lives remain private, because they themselves have made it public.”)
And the potential implications for freedom of expression had the case not gone against Joost, for another.
Granted, the latter could have had far-reaching consequences had the judge found in favour of the former rugby player, since it would have set a precedent that could very well have deemed it unlawful to publish any data on criminals, or corrupt government officials and the like. And hey, the secrecy bill – sorry, Protection of State Information Bill – already has that covered.
But it’s the third discussion point that leaves me feeling most perturbed.
As entertainment journalists, the nature of our job dictates that we are exposed to people of a certain “celebrity” standing within international and, predominantly, local circles.
While it’s understood (among us from the “old guard” at any rate) that it is imperative to maintain one’s objectivity in order to remain credible, it’s also par for the course that we will inevitably develop personal relationships with these figures. Especially those we write about and engage with on a regular basis.
Every so often, these relationships blossom into full-blown friendships, exposing us to elements and details of that individual’s life which they allow us to be privy to only in our capacity as their chum – not as the person wearing the reporter’s hat.
The author of the book has repeatedly positioned himself as a “friend and confidant” of the couple – yet here he is, brazenly divulging the very details that were shared with him in confidence (hence the word “confidant”), for what one can only regard as a tasteless attempt to boost his own public profile. And make money off the misery of others while he’s at it.
In a move that plays directly into the hands of the whole “journalists as amoral opportunists” stereotype, his core defence is a pitiable “I’m simply doing my job”.
Yes. While conveniently ignoring a fundamental factor of said job, namely journalistic ethics.
The author’s actions in having penned this tell-all book are no different to that of a reporter outing their source. An offence second only to plagiarism in our world.
And if, as this saga has proved, he is so willing to betray those he claims to be close to, his friends and family had best take note!
LARA DE MATOS