Home' The Wellingtonian : June 7th 2012 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 7, 2012
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Famous for being famous
Big news: Jesse Ryder is constantly in the headlines, even when he hasn't
done anything worth reporting.
Ifirst heard the expression
famous for being famous in
the mid-1980s, when Truth
sports editor Hedley Mortlock
used it to describe Glenda
Hughes, a Commonwealth Games
shot putter who seemed to be in
the news an inordinate amount
for no particularly worthy reason.
Upon checking, I see the term
originated in the United States in
1961 and was given wider focus
when British journalist, satirist
and one-time spy Malcolm
Muggeridge used it in his book,
Muggeridge Through The Micro-
phone, in 1967. It s a good
expression -- even more relevant
in today s multi-media world.
There are so many ways people
desperate for publicity can court
fame. In the end they become
staples of women s magazines and
regulars of those social page photo
But it s all smoke and mirrors.
What, for example, is the reason
for the continued media fasci-
nation with Sally Ridge, beyond
the fact that she married a couple
of blokes who were good at sport?
In sport, some athletes seem to
receive undue attention.
Jesse Ryder and Sonny Bill Wil-
liams are two current examples.
Ironically, both have little to
say publicly, though they are con-
stantly in the spotlight.
Williams is a very good
footballer. He s not in the Conrad
Smith/Tana Umaga class, but has
plenty of skill.
That doesn t explain the media
(and public?) fascination with
Is he staying with rugby? Will
he return to league? What about
his boxing career?
What about his love life (a
recent girlfriend was Sally Ridge s
daughter!)? Is he the first Muslim
All Black? What s his latest tat-
Williams has team-mates who
have achieved much more on
the field, but none are
capable of generating the
publicity he does. Journalists
know any story they write
about Williams will get a
Ryder has played 18
cricket tests (the same num-
ber as Matthew Bell) and
has scored 1269 runs (well
under Brian Hastings tally).
He has also played 39 one-
day internationals (two more
than Chris Nevin).
I know he hits the ball
sweetly, but that hardly
qualifies him for the wall-to-
wall coverage he generates.
He has just decided he won t be
seeking a New Zealand Cricket
contract for next season, which is
just as well because he wasn t
going to be offered one.
If Richard Hadlee had
announced a comeback, the cover-
age wouldn t have been any more
Ryder has some issues to sort
through, mainly because he has
not handled alcohol well at times.
He s not alone there. But with
Ryder it s always a bigger story.
I m not saying Williams or
Ryder chase publicity. But the
situation they re now in, when
anything they do is headline
news, is baffling.
It s easy to envisage a women s
magazine deciding that Sonny Bill
Williams taking a holiday in
Honolulu would be news that mer-
ited a cover story.
Similarly, if Ryder happened to
let on that he was going on hol-
iday with a girlfriend, that too
would be headline-worthy.
By accident or design, Williams
and Ryder are the modern New
Zealand sports examples of
famous for being famous , and
they ve parlayed that publicity
into a healthy income.
Good for them.
What s most amazing to me is
that they ve done it despite hardly
ever giving a substantial inter-
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