By Ben Henry | @Notagainben

You want to become famous? Top tip – ditch the singing coach for a gym pass, the acting lessons for pearly veneers and leave your morals at the door sweetie, because who really needs those if you’re going to make it big?

That, folks, is a crash course on how to scrape into the elite club in celebville today because, let’s face it, you don’t have to achieve anything to be there now. You only need to sit on the remote and accidentally flick over to TOWIE to prove my point. The key question – what are they actually famous for?

In respect to the ladies of TOWIE, most have used the show as a platform to open boutiques or other such ventures. But let’s look at the men in particular. What do they actually do? Look pretty enough to be fawned over, make club appearances in party capitals such as Doncaster and get caught with their wang out in naughty Skype calls. It would be a different ball game if the root of their fame held some snippet of talent. Alas, I’m not entirely sure getting your kit off, being caught in love triangles and drinking trains of Jäger counts as a talent. They’re basically doing what most twenty-somethings do at the weekend. The only difference is they do it on TV.

Blame can’t be put on the Ken dolls of TOWIE though, not entirely anyway. For one, you have to look at the lapdogs putting them up on their pedestal. The ones that invest their free time idolising them. The young girls (and gays who should know better) who count abs and become doe-eyed. I mean OK, I’m partial to an ab or six, it doesn’t mean I’m about to worship the ground they walk on and tout them as famous. But keep digging and it’s the poisonous tentacles of the media that are truly elevating the famous-for-no-reason posse. In the weekly spreads the wannabes take centre stage, often on the front page. Tops off, pouts turned on. That’s attractive and likely to sell more than the odd copy, but all that’s enforcing is the god-like status of people that, quite frankly, don’t deserve to be famous. 

The effect this media circus has on the ideal of body image is daunting. Somehow this horde of Z-listers have teamed up with magazines for double page spreads to pummel the mould of what is normal into a shape they think will sell more copies. While we all love to perv on a man in his Calvins, is this all we’ve amounted to now? With rippling pectorals being forced down our throats at every turn, the lean physique of a gymnast or a swimmer is fast becoming, if it hasn’t already become, the poster for normal. A man’s ego is a fragile construct. Should we really encourage smashing it down just because he doesn’t have 20-inch biceps? This is in no way to shame those with a body carved of marble. If that’s what you worked for, then you deserve admiration for that dedication. But should reality TV poster boys become famous because of it? Looking good is one thing, but talent is surely another. Can you really only be famous for a pretty face? 

As gay men, we can be a fickle breed. We often rely on visuals and the physical body to keep us interested. For men, it is stereotypically programmed into us. Where do we draw the line? That guy in the gym has the brain cells of a goldfish and the personality of a dry wall. But hey, he’s got really nice legs and a killer smile, let’s throw him on the fame heap too. We really should appreciate more than vanity when it comes to celebrities. What’s the difference between eyeing the hunk at the bus stop and buying the calendar of the next TOWIE pretty boy? Appreciating good looks is more than acceptable. I thrive on it! 

But for fame, let’s appreciate those with talents more than the average person. Is that not what it’s all about? Being impressed because she can sing like Mariah and he can act his way to an Oscar. So what if he has abs – so do a select portion of the population who aren’t famous. Pedestal the celebrities that deserve it, not those that will remove any item of clothing to distract you from the fact they can’t do much else. Do we really want to live in a world where younger gay men think the only way they can become famous is by looking good? I’d much rather we encourage them to be famous for something positive and not just as someone’s one-wank-wonder.   

FS says: Abs are fine, muscles are fine, taking your clothes off is fine… but there is a fine line between appreciating and celebrating. When the gay media celebrates beauty over talent we are in a danger zone where we are telling young gay men that as long as you have abs then you don’t need much else. It’s absolutely fine to drool over Dan Osborne but if you think that having a body like his will lead you to a happier life then we, the gay media, are doing our jobs wrong. There is no harm in appreciating beauty but we should never worship it. There are more important things in life to care about.