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‘Becoming Molly-Mae’ shows how social media is wreaking havoc on stars’ memoirs

At one point in Molly-Mae Hague’s new memoir become Molly Mae, the 23-year-old super influencer reflects on her reasons for writing a book. She and her manager, she says, “made the decision a long time ago not to do a lot of interviews,” because “if the press writes a story, it’s from the journalists’ point of view.” By telling her story on the terms she sets, she controls her narrative in the same way she controls her narrative over her social media channels over her six million total followers.

Her attitude tells a bigger picture in the world of celebrity. In recent years, as social media has taken hold as a way for celebrities to speak directly to fans, the existing showbiz media infrastructure has begun to crumble.

In fact, the press seems to be showing some caution: just look at the circulation of articles in reputable magazines in which celebrities interview themselves without journalists. What’s more, celebrities – particularly the likes of Hague, whose lives and how they are shared online are a big part of their careers – have become so accustomed to revealing what’s going on via their own platforms on sites like Instagram and YouTube going on in her life that the traditional celebrity ad machine, with its exclusive interviews and in-depth memoir, has become somewhat controversial.

While become Molly Mae is packed with stories about Hague’s life, her upbringing, her times island of love in 2019 and her career since, there’s also a lot of it that doesn’t feel particularly new to anyone keeping an eye on her YouTube channel. This book raises the question: In times of Instagram stories and vlogging, do we still need celebrity memoirs?

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Celebrity memoirs – since they tend to concern pop culture figures rather than, say, politicians who are sworn to silence until the end of their term – used to serve a function similar to social media. They allowed famous people to talk to their fans about the intimate details of their lives on their own terms, with no intermediary interviewer. It’s true that these books are often made in collaboration with an author, but the celebrity still has the final say on what’s included or how it comes across.

Books like Victoria Beckham’s 2001 autobiography Learn to flyand 2004 be Jordanin which Katie Price discussed her years as a glamor model and dating history, as well as her early life and relationship with her son Harvey, flew off shelves in the 2000s (for a time, be Jordan held WH Smith’s record for most copies of a memoir sold in one week) as the curious public clamored to hear these much-discussed women’s tales in their own words.

Two decades later, things have changed. Social media allows stars to stay in constant touch with their audience if they so choose – in fact, the influencer culture shows that this can build a huge, passionate following. In particular, online celebrities like Hague will capitalize on events in their own lives by offering inside information on things they’ve already shared on social media or that have been covered in the traditional press. The relationship between influencers like Hague and their audience is based on regularly sharing and admitting personal information, and so their book had to offer something different.

The first part of the book follows the usual celebrity memoir framework – here she describes her upbringing and her path to her current job – before, about two-thirds of the way through, it morphs into a kind of “influencer’s guide”. In this part, she describes the ins and outs of her day-to-day work, outlines how she captures her content, and basically shares tips for anyone who might want to follow in her footsteps.

This sort of “self-improvement” genre has become a plum for celebrity books, especially since the rise of social media and its promotion of “wellness” culture and “hustle” culture rolled into one, as memoirs have lost their relevance . Celebrities from Fearne Cotton to Marcus Rashford have published books on self-help issues (Rashford’s children’s book is called You are a champion: how to be the best you can be) and while Hague’s book offers more practical suggestions, it’s easy to see how it crosses the line between memoir and this new breed of celebrity advice.

That’s not to say become Molly Mae however, does not contain any personal recordings. Though Hague is a self-proclaimed homebody whose memoir lacks the juicy kiss-and-tell details of celebrity autobiographies of yesteryear, her feelings about past use of injectable fillers and her endometriosis diagnosis are debated. plus a section on her struggles with the paparazzi and her body image (although this is just as confusing as the poisoned discourse on “body positivity” in general, because it includes a lot of babble about weight loss before an appended “All bodies are beautiful vibes”).

Hague also opens up about her parents’ divorce, and briefly discusses how shortly thereafter her mother “turned to alcohol to deal with the pain of her marital breakdown.” This, she says, “explains why I’m the way I am with alcohol — I avoid it quite a bit,” she adds, adding that her only real disagreements are with boyfriend Tommy Fury, who she met during her time island of love, “has to do with the fact that he drinks”.

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However, most of this has been at least partially referenced in Hague’s online content (she’s made YouTube videos dissolving her fillers, for example). And the topics she’s previously avoided talking about — specifically her viral comments on them Diary of a CEO Podcast (“We all have the same 24 hours a day” gate) as well as the environmental and labor rights concerns surrounding PrettyLittleThing, the fast fashion brand where she was recently named creative director – remain except for one implicit mention of fact that she felt “terribly guilty” that comments she made had upset people in the past.

The book would never address those aspects of Molly-Mae’s personality that tend to go wrong with the public – that is, her privilege and lack of recognition – because, like most celebrity memoirs of her kind, become Molly Mae was written for those who are already in love with her, not her detractors. But considering the book itself doesn’t really update Hague’s own life (it doesn’t mention her recently purchased house or his Instagram account @mollymaison, which has over a million followers after launching in March, presumably because it was written before this development), how much even her fans will benefit from it, as they are stuck on her constant sharing, remains to be seen.

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