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July 9, 2008

Burchill gets to heart of matter, again

Julie Burchill is one of the highest-paid writers in Fleet Street – indeed, in terms of pounds per word there are few if any to match her. It’s such a pity then that The Sun doesn’t take more care to check that she isn’t recycling words she’s used before.

On Friday, the Brighton-based scribbler penned an article defending singer Amy Winehouse, but it may have left readers experiencing a strange sense of déjà vu. Huge sections of Burchill’s latest piece bear a striking similarity to her Sun article of January 2, headlined: “Give me Amy over Sadie.”

On Friday, she told readers: “…we are so used to/conned by female singers who are AMBITION-LED rather than TALENT-DRIVEN that we seem to have forgotten how truly gifted singers behave.
“Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday – for some reason women who have a great talent for singing also have a great capacity for reckless behaviour. Whereas if your talent is an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny sickly little thing – see Madonna – then you have to behave the very opposite of reckless in order to preserve it.”

Back in January, Burchill wrote: “We’ve been used for such a long time to singers who are ambition-led (Madonna and her hordes of pop-tart imitators) that we have forgotten how singers who are talent-led behave.

“Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday – for some reason, and it would take a genetic scientist to explain it, women who have a great talent for singing also have a great capacity for reckless behaviour.

“Whereas if your talent is a teeny-weeny sickly little thing – see Madonna and mates – then you have to behave the very opposite of recklessly in order to preserve it.”

After a few paragraphs of new stuff, Burchill’s latest piece continues: “However self-destructively she appears to behave, at the end of the day the self-esteem such extraordinary talent must bestow will pull her through in the end.”

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It’s good to see Burchill hasn’t changed her opinion since January, when she told Sun readers: “…I feel that however self-destructively Amy appears to be behaving, at the end of the day the self-esteem – however deeply buried – that such extraordinary talent must bestow will pull her through.”

One mustn’t be too harsh on the Bristol-born scribbler. There is some new material, in particular her attack on the “agony aunts and sob sisters of the press giving yet more of their more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger advice” to Winehouse. Warming to her task, she calls these fellow hackettes ” the worry-warts, seat-sniffers and bed-wetters whose half-lives are so boring that they get their sad kicks from criticising the REAL lives of others”.

Perhaps she is thinking of the “sob sister” who has written of the need to “hammer into [Winehouse’s] thick skull that she’s lucky enough to have a healthy body and mind that she’s wilfully choosing to destroy”. Which bed-wetter was this? Why, fellow Sun columnist Jane Moore.

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