Nine iconic women whose fame in the noughties came at a price. Through their stories, journalist Sarah Ditum describes how each of the women changed ‘celebrity’ forever, despite often falling victim to it, during one of the most hostile eras in which to be female: a time of voracious paparazzi, nihilistic bloggers and aggressive gossip culture.
During this access-all-areas ‘upskirt decade’, many of these celebrities were at the centre of the first moments to go viral on social media. Some became victims of new technology – but they also shaped the way that technology would be used. They were presented with all the riches and market opportunities that the noughties had to offer, as long as they adhered to the new rules of engagement. Toxic: Women, Fame and the Noughties is a fascinating portrait of the early millennium and its cultural impact on women – celebrities or not.
‘a bracing feminist reappraisal of the pre-#MeToo Noughties’
‘Living through the 00s, I never realised how casually cruel they were – how cruel we were – to famous women. Toxic is an incendiary page-turner that will make you reconsider the price of fame…and your opinion of Kim Kardashian. It’s a Molotov cocktail hurled at the feet of celebrity culture’
Helen Lewis, author of Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights
‘A Necessary and incisive feminist reckoning with the noughties. Insightful, exhilarating – and horrifying. What were we thinking?
Caroline Criado-Perez, author of Invisible Women
‘Brilliant…really made me realise how no one has pulled back and given an overall story to the last twenty years…It’s clever because it makes me think about now’
Adam Curtis, filmmaker
“Reading Sarah Ditum always brings the world into sharper focus for me, and nowhere more than in this witty yet damning chronicle of a defining decade in the history of fame. TOXIC will make you see with fresh eyes what the attention economy has done to celebrity culture, to nine of the women at its epicenter, and ultimately to all of us”
Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks
‘Top-notch pop-culture commentary—a smart and entertaining look at female celebrity during a decade of immense change.’
Kirkus starred review
‘Ditum’s hotly anticipated book brilliantly captures the prevailing millennial mood of anti-nostalgia, or looking back through newly appalled eyes on the past – in this case an era of prurient, tech-enabled misogyny she christens the “Upskirt Decade”…’
‘Readers will rethink what they thought they knew about some of the most publicized celebrity stories of the early 2000s.’
‘Ditum’s prose is never overwrought, and she treats pop culture with a rare seriousness. She is right to do so. The women who came of age in the noughties are entering middle age, with all the agency that brings. The Woman in Me, Spears’s memoir, published on Tuesday this week, with much-trailed revelations that include her mental decline following the height of her fame.’
‘…Critically engaged, well-researched, colourful without seeming exploitative… a book of serious reportage…For readers interested in real celebrity journalism, which is to say, a broad-minded and incisive take on what it meant to be famous and female in a time where “the more she hurt, the greater the entertainment,” then get off the internet and into a bookshop and ask for Toxic.’
The Irish Times
‘Ditum details the manifold ways in which the public revelled in the downfall of women who had been lauded for their talent, beauty or wealth…While a worthwhile and thoughtful read in its own right, Toxic also serves as a useful companion to Spears’s memoir, The Woman in Me’
‘a broader account of this febrile period in 21st-century culture, which looks ever more baffling the further we travel from it, has felt long overdue. With the variously disturbing and illuminating Toxic, Ditum has risen to the challenge.’