Friday, 5 August 2011

George Michael and the Harmen Siezen effect

George Michael definitely has a bit of a Harmen Siezen effect going on. Don't know what I'm talking about? Of course not. Let me explain.

Harmen Siezen used to be a news presenter on Dutch national TV. He was universally well-liked, by all accounts a very nice man. When there was talk of starting the first commercial Dutch TV network Harmen Siezen signed on. Unfortunately, the network was a spectacular flop and Mr Siezen was presumably reduced to asking for his old job back. He got rehired, but  he never got promoted to presenting the 8 o'clock news (our most important news bulletin). One got the feeling this was punishment for his 'desertion'. A bit petty of his employers, but OK.

A few years later commercial TV networks were a huge success. So was Mr. Siezen just unlucky? I don't think so. It's a pet theory of mine that Mr Siezen is part of a group of people who are just not cut out to get away with things.  Hence the Harmen Siezen (HC) effect.

We all know people like that, people who suffer from the HC effect. If everyone is doing something forbidden, like 'borrowing' office supplies, they are the ones getting caught doing it and getting fired for it. (Yeah I know, technically it's stealing. But let's be honest, we've all done it at times) And if everyone is parking their car on the pavement because there are no parking spaces left, they are the ones whose cars are towed away.

To my surprise, even major international superstars are not spared the Harmen Siezen effect. I feel George Michael is a prime example.

Just think about it. His was the most public - and humiliating - outing of all time. You could argue it was all out (heh) in the open because he got arrested and all and thus a matter of public record. But lots of (semi-)famous men are cautioned or arrested by the police for similar behaviour (it is rather common after all). Somehow, those cases never get any further than the blind items pages of gossip magazines, if they get mentioned at all.

And it's the same with some of his other reported troubles. The way the papers went on and on about it, you'd think George Michael is the only celebrity (besides Doherty) that was ever caught with drugs. But they're all at it, but once again it's not really talked about except in blind items.

So how come, if he's always getting caught, he's not in more trouble than he's been? How come after the police caught him ahem 'partying in the park'  after 25Live wrapped in autumn 2008 he got away with a caution? He could've gotten in a lot of legal trouble if the police had formally charged him with possession of the stuff he was allegedly carrying.

I guess what saves George Michael is his GG factor. I have a feeling that most of his arrests went something like this. He does something bad and because of the HC-effect he inevitably gets caught. He's genuinely horrified and remorseful about whatever it is that he has done wrong. I'm convinced that under all the acting out is a thoroughly decent man, who gets very upset at his own bad behaviour. And I think this shines through. Basically George Michael is A Good Guy, and that helps quite a bit.

And if that doesn't work there's always the famous GM-factor. Most people, fans and non-fans alike, have a soft spot for George. You can't really hate a man who demonstrates, as Polly Vernon of the Guardian once so beautifully put it, "a somewhat inept approach to being alive".

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