Friend­ship never ends? Not when we’re all hop­ing for new Spice Girls cat­fight

The Spice Girls have changed noth­ing in the per­sis­tent nar­ra­tive of bitchy fe­male friend­ships, writes Sarah Caden

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Anaysis -

WHEN footage was re­leased last Fri­day of the Spice Girls on Jonathan Ross’s chat show it fo­cused on one thing: the fight­ing, of course.

It wasn’t just about the fight­ing with Vic­to­ria — not that any­one’s fight­ing with Vic­to­ria or any­thing, wash your mouth out — but also that they were bick­er­ing with each other over whether or not they’re fight­ing with Vic­to­ria.

Ah, how Jonathan laughed, and the au­di­ence laughed, and the Spice Girls hammed it up and it was all great sport.

Aren’t girls great, all the same, the way they’ll fight with each other for en­ter­tain­ment value?

In case you haven’t heard, the Spice Girls are re­form­ing and go­ing on tour. Just the four of them, mind, with­out Vic­to­ria Beck­ham.

Official an­nounce­ment of the tour came early this week, as the same Jonathan

Ross Show an­nounced that they’d have the four­some on the show this week­end. The girls — Spice Women? — were forced to an­nounce the tour and no sooner had they an­nounced than the fo­cus be­gan on the feud­ing.

Vic­to­ria would not be along for the ride. The official line is that Vic­to­ria is too busy with her fash­ion busi­ness to join them. This is of course plau­si­ble, but it’s an ex­cuse greeted with near hi­lar­ity. Yeah, right, too busy. Don’t you mean that you girls are too busy cat­fight­ing to make it work?

Mel C did the talk­ing on Jonathan Ross, as clear and po­lite as she ever was.

“I saw Vic­to­ria re­cently,” she said, “and, you know, we’ve all been in con­tact, she’s still very much part of the Spice Girls and she re­ally sup­ports us and we re­ally sup­port her, and she made the point that she was never ac­tu­ally asked, we just pre­sumed.”

This was news last Fri­day, be­cause up to that point, the world at large had guessed that Vic­to­ria had de­clined to join. In fact, hasn’t Vic­to­ria made it clear for years that af­ter their out­ing at the 2012 Olympics, she’s not do­ing Spice Girls again? Still, the oth­ers all man­aged to look shocked to hear that they hadn’t ac­tu­ally asked her.

“Was she not?” asked Emma Bun­ton.

“She was,” said Geri. “I spoke to her two days be­fore the an­nounce­ment and she said, you know, she’s said it for years, that she doesn’t want to do it any more.”

“Still,” said Jonathan Ross, “you should have of­fered her the op­por­tu­nity.”

Mel B pulled a face at the au­di­ence at that point. A sort of panto-vil­lain, ‘‘my bad’’ sort of face that gets the in­tended laughs. Bold Spice Girls, and how great that the male pre­sen­ter was able to point out that they were be­ing bitches.

It seems like this is what it al­ways boils down to in our per­cep­tion of fe­male group dy­nam­ics. It doesn’t mat­ter if it all starts out with “if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends,” in the end we are all just mean girls, jeal­ous of one an­other’s suc­cesses, hap­pi­ness, looks, fig­ures, clothes, the list goes on.

It’s worth not­ing that when Westlife re­cently an­nounced they’d be go­ing on tour again, there was barely any fo­cus on ill will be­tween the boys. That’s not just down to the fact that there is no ill will and they’re all great bud­dies and we grew up with each other, blah blah. It’s be­cause we don’t go there.

There was scant men­tion that Brian McFad­den won’t be along for the ride, be­cause he, like the prodigal Geri Hal­li­well, left Westlife early, but that was it. In­stead, the fo­cus was on how fast the tick­ets sold and how they’d had to put on more per­for­mances to cope. The love was still there for the lads. And it’s still there for the Spice Girls, but what gets us most revved up about them is the in-fight­ing, or per­ceived in-fight­ing.

Over last week, the his­tory of the Spice Girls was raked over to fit the cat­fight theme. You could go all the way back to the lyrics of Wannabe, their break­through sin­gle, to find the ori­gins of how it all went wrong. The mould was set for the Spice Girls from the get go, Mel B was in your face, Geri was a blab­ber­mouth, Emma was in­of­fen­sive and Vic­to­ria was a “real laydee”.

It was the recipe that meant there was one for every young girl to en­joy and em­u­late and re­late to, but it also meant they were th­ese dis­tinct char­ac­ters des­tined to clash. And they did.

Mel B and Vic­to­ria were po­lar op­po­sites and both pow­er­ful in their very op­po­site ways. Vic­to­ria re­garded Mel B as coarse and com­mon, it was sug­gested last week, and Mel B found her stuck-up and spoilt. Ap­par­ently.

Ad­mit­tedly, Mel B didn’t help things by dress­ing up as Posh for Halloween, com­plete with a sign say­ing, “No I Am Not Go­ing On Tour”. She hooted with laugh­ter at her bold­ness on the Jonathan Ross couch, and blamed it all on her “tongue-in-cheek” north of Eng­land hu­mour.

It all fits the theme that girls just can’t get along. Sure, the ac­cepted nar­ra­tive of the Spice Girls was that fe­male friend­ship trumps all, but that was be­fore time and age and di­vorces and widely vary­ing fi­nan­cial for­tunes got in the way.

The Spice Girls were very young women first time around, on an equal foot­ing to one an­other. Life tips the bal­ance, time shifts the power. Re­sent­ments are bound to sur­face in any five-way re­la­tion­ship. That’s to be ex­pected, but what’s a shame is the play­ing of that for cat­fight laughs.

To see the Spice Girls go­ing along with it all sort of takes the gloss off the re­union tour. Their mouths are mov­ing and they’re giv­ing all the right lines about mu­tual sup­port and love, but they’re also laugh­ing at be­ing laughed at, play­ing the ru­moured feud­ing for gig­gles or, more cyn­i­cally, ticket sales.

The girls can’t help it. And we can’t help think it about the girls.

Whether any of it helps ticket sales re­mains to be seen, and all the while the band-of­broth­ers boys sell seats and main­tain their manly dig­nity.

‘They’re play­ing the feud­ing for gig­gles or ticket sales’

BACK AND BOLD: Clock­wise from front, Emma Bun­ton, Geri Hal­li­well, Me­lanie Chisholm, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham (who’ll miss the re­union) and Me­lanie Brown

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