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Why I don't (usually) ask celebrities for autographs or photographs

Why I don't (usually) ask celebrities for autographs or photographs

Ever since I started working properly in the media business, well-meaning friends and family will often ponder if I can get them an autograph for someone. This is a little tricky because:

  • I don’t generally meet celebrities any more in my line of work anyway!
  • Even if I did, it’d be very hard to interrupt an interview or a meeting with a “Oh by the way, can you sign this for my grandma?” or “Can we just pose for a photograph?”
  • I’m terrible at asking anything of strangers. Unless I have to.
  • How many journalists do you know who interrupt press conferences to ask for an autograph? It’s just not done.
  • Most importantly, I’m usually the only Chinese person in the room. Which means:
    • They’re far more likely to notice me – I tend to stick out like a sore form even when I don’t say anything – and thus, form an opinion, good or bad.
    • The last thing I want to do is enhance the racist assumption that Japanese/foreign journalists are idiotic and don’t know the ‘rules’

Having said all that, outside of work, it seems to be OK. During one birthday celebration in a Soho pub, June Whitfield came into the pub. Before you know it, my then evil scum of workmates had corralled her into posing for a pic next to me – I’m not too sure where that picture has gone, but it’s around here somewhere, with the odd sock. And somewhere in my archives, I also have Woody Allen’s autograph.

Of course, it seems to be just me who has a problem with asking celebrities for autographs where I work. My friend Shari in New York, who’s a radio engineer, had her pic taken with Hugh Jackman and was very proud of it. Stephen Fry, as ever, is the realist and has the do’s and don’ts of approaching a celebrity.

Do you work in the biz, as pretentious people like to call it? Do you collect autographs or photographs, or just get on with it and work with them as colleagues?

Of course the media is "institutionally racist" !

Of course the media is "institutionally racist" !

There’s been a bit of furore in the UK media after the chief of the Metropolitian police accused the media of racism, specifically reporting/hyping certain crimes more if white victims were involved, as opposed to non-white victims.

Why this comes as a surprise, I don’t know. Victims of crime who aren’t generic “pretty blondes” don’t really get covered in any depth, unless there’s another sensational aspect.

Hell, look at the perennial story of A-level students and their results. Pictures illustrating that tend to be of pretty female blonde students collecting their results. You hardly see any dark-haired women collecting their results, let alone non-white people.

Hell, when the national newspaper of Wales publishes an article headlined However much I love my gay friends, I don’t want them running the country, the problem isn’t just with racism. It’s sexism, homophobia, everything.

In other words, the media, the police, and everyone else are as institutionally racist as society itself. And until society accepts that it is genuinely racist in its thinking, nothing is really going to change.

qwghlm makes this point in a tad more detail than I do, but hey I’ve been busy and snowed under.

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