Front Row


Four TV presenters, an actress, two recording artists, a male model, a dancer and a lifestyle magazine try to stay afloat by dressing up as refugees. The caption reads: “We are all refugees. Famous Greeks are photographed to remind us that millions of lives on the road need our help. Is it time we did something?”

Regular readers will know that this blog was at the forefront of the humanitarian dress-up trend, so we do not even find the idea original. A sample of the reactions on social media captures the mixture of bemusement and snark which ensued.

For context: DownTown is a lifestyle magazine, relaunched recently after almost three years of enforced hiatus. DownTown, along with sister publication Nitro, was emblematic of Greece’s pre-crisis bubble: airbrushed celebrity photos, and the accompanying lifestyle, big watches, fast cars, bling and nightlife. The lifestyle of πρώτο τραπέζι πίστα (próto trapézi písta) – front row at the bouzoukia – and conspicuous consumption. DownTown’s publishing company went bust; its owner was forced to sell some of his properties including his holiday home on Mykonos to pay the bills; he now fronts a lame weekly Letterman/Kimmel knock-off. The rights to the DownTown title were acquired by its last editor, who has relaunched it with an unrepentant mandate to “do what we’ve always done… the things that really occupy us… showbiz gossip, rumours, whispers, and having a laugh”. In tune with the times, then! It is entirely possible they thought “hotspot” was the latest celebrity hangout. Maybe they are already busy bidding for the rights to the “hot migrants” Instagram account.

More context: A few thousand ordinary people at a non-celebrity, non-sponsored event organised last Sunday in Syntagma square “did something”: without TV cameras present, they collected mountains of essentials and toys, transported, sorted them, and delivered them to the refugee camps.

At least two of the participants in the DownTown cover have since expressed their remorse.



Front Row

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