Monday, September 25, 2006

I before we except after celebrity

David Hasselhoff with shaving companions
Famous people always say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ when describing anything they happen to be doing. David Hasselhoff seems to do this more than any other famous person. ‘We made a movie and then we went out to Rwanda to cheer up all the sad people out there and then we made another movie and then we had a devastating shaving accident which made us miss an important media event..’ You know the sort of thing. I do understand that it takes more than one person to make a movie but surely even David Hasselhoff can manage a shaving accident without assistance. He seems unable to discern where he ends and his entourage begins.

Of course when he refers to his newly published autobiography Making Waves (neat pun!), and he says, ‘when we wrote the book’, he is probably referring to the input of a ghost writer or two. Maybe they are even the ‘we’ of all other activity. If you have a ‘larger than life’ life maybe you do need a lot of people under the one skin to make it work and be in so many places at the same time. David Hasselhoff always looked constructed rather than grown. Perhaps Michael Knight, the reconstructed hero of his first hit television show Knight Rider (another neat pun!), is actually the David Hasselhoff we see before us today and, like all movie furniture, you need several of them in case one gets accidentally blown up or killed in a shaving accident.

John Travolta always claimed to be a Qantas pilot but that can’t be true because he’s not gay. It is much more likely that he is a set of identical quintuplets and those aerial shots of his home with several jumbo jets parked outside are, in fact, of the abandoned film set used in the 1976 television movie Victory at Entebbe. One of the stars of that film, Elizabeth Taylor, was always a ‘we’ person but that is probably because she has always needed large numbers of people to carry her anywhere she needed to go so any destination was, by definition, a ‘we’ activity.

Tony Blair is new to we-dom. Throughout his prime ministerial career he has always said ‘I’ whenever referring to anything the government intended to do. It lent itself to his stream of consciousness style quite nicely. ‘I am going to issue ASBO’s to, you know, all those anti-social foetuses and send their, you know, mothers to work in logistics which is an area of you know, growth in our vibrant economy and one in which they are not allowed to, you know, smoke cigarettes which are destroying our nation’s health and putting, you know, huge pressure on the health service which we are, incidentally you know, in the process of dismantling for its own good'.

Blair’s sudden switch to ‘we’ may be indicative of his future career intentions. It cannot be a policy shift because the public knows that even if he says things like ‘we are, you know, going to make sure children eat a healthy, you know, lunch’, he has done so immediately after watching a television show in which a celebrity cook clearly on something other than organic rocket has tried to force feed five year olds with asparagus in Hollandaise sauce. To conclude this is a good idea cannot possibly be the result of any discussion with anyone, least of all children. That would be like asking turkey twizzlers to vote for Christmas.

His conversion to a ‘we’ identity could be modelled on the Bill Clinton post-presidential persona. When you are making very grand claims like ‘we will make poverty history’, or ‘we will end global warming’, you need to sound like there are a lot of you before people will listen to you over dinner rather than watch EastEnders.

Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck' Brown is not really a ‘we’ man. He is rather a wee man with grandiose notions of his own importance. His speech remains resolutely ‘I’ focused as he has no intention whatever of discussing anything with anyone ever again once he becomes prime minister. When he and the money bin are finally installed in numbers 10 and 11 Downy Street respectively, he intends to put an end to all political debate and have Jeremy Paxman declared illegal. All television stations will have Knight Rider and Baywatch on permanent rotation and ‘The Hoff’ will be installed as the nation's 'moral compass', given a lifetime supply of safety razors and a non-slip bathroom carpet.

Image from


iLikeAkehurstFanClub said...

I'm not sure about "we" but in interviews and speeches Tony Blair nearly always begins every paragraph with "Luke", as in "Luke, at the time we made the decision to (insert whatever here) the evidence clearly indicated that such action was not only necessary but fully justified."

I notice that recently our blessed Gordon Brown has wisely adopted the same technique and, on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, many sentences began with our "Luke".

This is obviously a reference to our in-house Hackney statesman, Cllr Luke Akehurst.


That's so pants said...

Yes!! It could be they are using that famous old radio technique of imagining an 'audience of one' to overcome nerves. Usually they pick their spouse or their cat but.. to each his own.