Last week the shocking news that Kate Middletonhas breasts riveted the world.
Photographed sun bathing semi nude from a very great distance, when the story broke I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be surprised by?
That fact that Middleton has human anatomy? Or the fact that some truly awful human beings would try to photograph her and that others would offer thousands of pounds to publish those photographs in the tabloid press?
That kind of thing has been going on in Rupert Murdoch's main publications for decades. No one’s surprised by it. So what changed?
I think the surprise, and there appeared to be a lot of surprise, was that it happened to a rather transparently winning human being like Kate Middleton. She has an open kind face. You can’t fake that. People like her.
So the outrage we have been reading about in the press is based on the premise that she's a bit different, and that things that obviously despicable shouldn't happen to people who are so endearing.
But she must have known it was coming. The hunger for sensation in the tabloid press is too strong. They’ve tapped phones and spied on celebrities. They’ve hired helicopters and invaded weddings. There is nowhere they won’t go to get the goods.
Fame comes with a price after all. And since the dawn of the internet the mystique of fame has been eroding in tandem with the last vestiges of what we used to call a private life.
Once upon a time fame seemed like a glamorous thing and something to aspire to, but now thanks to telephoto lenses and an increasingly unhinged paparazzi we have seen far more than we ever wanted to of the real business of celebrity.
The internet has let the light in on all the magic. Now you'd really want to be out of your mind to pursue it. That's a major change that doesn't get discussed enough.
Andy Warhol said in the future we'd all be famous for fifteen minutes and the reality TV of the last decade took him precisely at his word, elevating people with characteristics no more compelling than how they arrange their hair to the heights of global notoriety. But in making everyone famous they have made fame itself suspect.
Just twenty years ago famous people were usually remote and impossible to approach, but now we regularly see them falling out of their dresses as they tumble into their limousines on their way to another idiotic club. It's the same the world over. Royalty once meant tradition and gravitas, but increasingly it means boobs and naked Las Vegas romps with frothing larger louts.
Kate’s topless shots upset many because we caught a glimpse of the real distress the episode caused her. But that’s already being forgotten as the news cycle turns. Next weekPrince Harry will probably be photographed throwing up or leaving someone’s apartment in the early hours. It’ll be the next big sensation. What’s different is that it’s all starting to feel as tired as Rupert Murdoch looks these days.
Fame, as they say in London, is pants. These days being famous looks like a mostly upsetting experience. It used to signify distinction, but now it’s main ambition seems to be to level us all.
Read more: Alan Shatter calls for an end to ‘creepy keyhole journalism’ after Kate Middleton fiasco