The Beckhams are struggling. No, not because of David’s own talents, which may be endless and ill-used at a read soccer club one would normally associate with stoned cosmologists, but because of his wife’s, which are finite indeed. Her role, if you remember, was to sing as Posh Spice in what must have been Britain’s equivalent of cheese wiz. With songs like Wannabe the Spice Girls polluted the planet with greater effectiveness than the cheeseburger wrappers of MacDonald’s. Sadly, they have proven almost as biodegradable: the Spice Girls have threatened the civilized world with a new tour.
Victoria’s (should I say Posh’s) move to the United States may be as devastating as Susan Sontag’s attempt to woo an audience in Britain on her first attempt, and even that wasn’t that bad. With someone like NBC’s Craig Plestis, head of alternative programming (that’s what they call it these days), Victoria might as well have taken hemlock.
The problem lies in Posh’s innate ability to have absolutely no impact on a field she claims to have mastered: celebrity. The Brits have been seeking to run the media circuit in the U.S. of late by punching above their emaciated weight and have been about as effective as their holed-up garrison at Basra. If you have not made it in the U.S. wonderland of fame, you haven’t made it anywhere and these current media colonials know only too well. When Heather McCartney decided to stop listening to those silly love songs from Paul, she decided to string a few tunes in the U.S. America called her, but no one was listening.
When Victoria decided that Los Angeles, rather than London, was the better venue to strut her meretricious snippets on celebrity, she thought she had made it. Americans would want to see her move to LA the way parents see their children take their first steps after leaving the cot. Sanitized cameras would be allowed to see what the Beckhams were really like. But rumors soon circulated that her show could be thankfully aborted and the guardians of media culture were unsheathing their blades. What happened was something in between: the show has been shrunk, and Victoria has been muted.
Posh cuts no ice in the United States, despite such advertisements as NBC’s ritzy ‘Victoria Beckham coming to America’, which suggested ‘her wicked [sic] sense of humor’. There is a ‘Brit-speak’ meter on the website to test the reader’s knowledge of the old country, though one need not call it English. America can produce its own trailer trash vernacular, and it some ways does it better.
In contrast, Beckham sold at one stage six million dollars worth of merchandise during any one day during his time at Manchester United and Real Madrid fame. Japanese girls were buying his imaged shirts faster than Nippon’s trawlers were whaling. A painful point for the couple emerges: Beck sells; Posh doesn’t. Sadly, when Beck is playing for a team that produces what would sadly amount to ‘pub football’, the results are devastating. It is merely a matter of time before the English football side sidelines this reckless reprobate for his fleeting encounter with those on the other side of the pond. A clash between LA Galaxy and England is already looming: for money or for country.
Knowledge might be power, but Posh has neither. The Welsh rap band Goldie Lookin’ Chain stumbled across a profane truth: Your Missus is a Nutter. That song, dedicated to binge drinking and Victoria was sung before fans in a soccer match between England and Wales in 2005. It caused a publicity row that spiralled out of control and lost the Welsh rappers the next recording contract. There may not be the only ones.
BINOY KAMPMARK is a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org