Starsuckers (DVD)

The fame game

Starsuckers, from Brit filmmaker Chris Atkins (Taking Liberties), is a shocking expose of the modern obsession with fame, cutting deep in its quest to expose the truth about how the US and UK media are actively involved in the deceptions and trickery that serve to fuel the all-pervading celebrity culture.

Atkins’ exceptionally well-researched, written and compiled doc starts by exploring why celebrities have become so central to everyday life, a mix of ancient survival instincts and a desire for recognition resulting in an international obsession – even addiction – with those in the public eye. But it’s the media who is at the centre of the fame game, publishing story after story about anyone and everyone, building them up or knocking them down in equal measure to pull in the punters. Nothing unusual there, you may think – surely these celebs invite this exposure the moment they get in front of a camera? But it’s the tactics used to get these stories which come under scrutiny here, with the tabloid newspapers being put under the spotlight.

And so we see compelling evidence of papers running entirely fabricated stories because they haven’t checked the facts, proposing to (illegally) access medical records, printing press releases verbatim – which, it’s argued, is advertising rather than news – and setting up their own stunts to guarantee column inches. Some call it spin, others lies, but it soon becomes shockingly clear that some media outlets are bending the rules to breaking point to supply celeb-hungry readers which they themselves have created. And what of the Press Complaints Commission, the body responsible for making sure publications are regulated? It’s run by a committee of editors and, it seems, is something of a limp-wristed joke within the industry itself.
The old adage of ‘don’t believe what you read’ has never been more true, but Starsuckers goes way beyond that. It calls into question the autonomy, trust and authority of our most well-known print and TV media outlets, accusing them of all manner of underhand techniques in order to push fame as an aspirational career choice for kids, so ensuring their loyal attention all the way into adulthood. A controversial argument, perhaps, but a compelling one, and Starsuckers presents its points in an entertaining and understandable way. 4 stars

Extra Features
Unavailable for review
This review was originally published in movieScope Issue 16

Director Chris Atkins
Format DVD
Distributor Network Releasing
Released April 12