Tuesday 25 November 2014

Lies and more lies

What do you do when someone publishes an unauthorised biography that's "trashy, vindictive and full of lies" about your life? How can you stop thousands of people reading what you regard as damaging tripe?

Aretha Franklin has let rip at the biography by David Ritz which reportedly claims she's jealous of other singers, fought alcoholism at the height of her fame, is delusional about her love life and was promiscuous from an early age.

She strongly contests what he's written. "As many of you are aware, there is a very trashy book out there full of lies and more lies about me. Clearly the writer has no class, no conscience or standards!

"His actions are obviously vindictive because I edited out some crazy statements he had the gall to try and put in my book written 15 years ago. Evidently, he has been carrying this hatred ever since."

Of course if the claims in a biography are unflattering, insulting and destructive, then the subject is highly likely to deny everything and accuse the writer of making it all up, peddling unverified rumours and gossip, and having some deep-seated grudge.

When the two are in such heated disagreement, who can possibly know if the book is telling it like it is or if, as she maintains, it's a pack of vicious lies?

In such situations, my immediate reaction is not to read the book at all, because if its truthfulness is doubtful, what's the point? I might as well be reading some muck-raking tabloid.

The obvious thing to do is sue for libel, but that's a costly business and the outcome might not be in her favour. So far she hasn't gone down that road as she's hoping her statement is enough to stop people reading it, or at least taking it seriously.

But I doubt her reputation will suffer, whatever the wild claims. Is anyone bothered that she's a flawed human being who might have behaved badly at times?


  1. the price of fame, Nick, it's always better to get one's own biography out there, warts 'n all so others don't plagiarize one's life for their own gain.

    Everyone has warts.


  2. Paper won't refuse ink, and unfortunately the days of personal privacy seem to be lost on those out to make a quick buck by dishing the dirt, whether it is true or not.

  3. www: She did write her own autobiography 14 years ago, but that's not enough for the gossip-mongers who put out their own supposedly more truthful versions. Perhaps she should update her autobiography.

    Grannymar: Yes, personal privacy counts for little these days when someone wants to exploit you or trash you for their own gain.

  4. Another great reason not to become a celebrity.

  5. It was interesting that she hired him to be her official biographer, but then edited out what she didn't like in the first book. It makes you wonder where he got the information she didn't like? Relatives or disgruntled employees?

  6. Jean: Indeed. It must be a nightmare.

    Bijoux: Apparently a lot of the controversial quotes come from her two sisters and her former booking agent, all three now conveniently dead so the quotes can't be checked.

  7. Ditto Cheerful Monk. I'd hate to be famous.

  8. Susie: I agree. Your whole life being scrutinised by complete strangers who feel the need to point out all your faults and tell you what crap you are.

  9. You want to bet that both of them will laugh all the way to the bank with the controversy?

  10. Ramana: I'm sure they'll both do well out of the row financially. But what a price to pay for it - all the acrimony and bile.

  11. Also, another good reason not tot read about celebrities!

  12. Agent: I try to avoid reading anything about celebs, because obviously most of it is half-truths, lies and image-boosting guff. And they usually keep their real identity carefully hidden.