The Saturday debate: does Catherine Zeta Jones need more public recognition?

A simple enough question to pose for today, with the Queen’s Birthday Honours in the news: should honours go to people who have already received wide-spread public acclaim and wealth such as Catherine Zeta Jones or should the honours be reserved for otherwise unrecognised people? Over to you…

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I find it hard to case either way to be honest. Some people certainly deserve recognition more than others, but accepting a pat on the head from the state has always struck me as an act of symbolic servility for anyone other than an employee of the state.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Jun '10 - 8:17pm

    I have noted before that most of the people who receive these things are celebrities of some kind. It’s not just about being well-known and wealthy, there’s also an implicit bias towards people in professions that will appear on TV (actors, business leaders, politicians, a few doctors and scientists) and people who are placed up front (there’s been a lot of lead singers and very few trombone players, over the years; similarly an award for the work done by a business will go to the CEO and not to whoever did the work).

    I know why it happens and I’m not sure it’s really important – does anybody care about these things? – but the system is pretty unfair.

  • Deniece Fisher 12th Jun '10 - 10:17pm

    I agree with Andrew.

    I’d go a step further and say let’s put the honours list in the bin with the current form of House of Lords.

  • @ Andrew “Does anyone care about these things”

    The answer is yes – a lot of civil servants really do, but one of the things Labour did to try and make the honours system more ‘relevant’ was give more honours to celebrities and fewer to civil servants who do things above and beyond their normal duties or who perform their normal duties well beyond the standard expected of them. This has a greater effect than most people realise, as it has seriously damaged morale in much of the civil service, with people less willing to work *extra* hard on an ‘above and beyond’ task, because they don’t feel that they’ll ever be recognised for it (note: a lot of departments have also had bonus payments cut for all but the top executives, so financial incentives don’t exist).

    Of course they still work hard because it’s their job to do so, but everyone likes to be recognised for their work, and for people in low-profile civil service roles (especially for those in the kinds of roles where they only get heard of if the mess up), the honours system was a very valued (and cheap) way of doing that. If Catherine Zeta-Jones had done something ‘extra’ (e.g. a lot of work for a charity), then I’d be all for this, but broadly speaking I think the honours system should reward civilian ‘above and beyond’ contributions and to a certain extent recognise those who have done good work but won’t otherwise be recognised.

    Oh, and we should stop giving them to sports teams whenever they win anything. People in the rest of the world take the piss, a lot, when we do that – after all, they already have the recognition of winning, and it’s hardly like they need the extra incentive to try and do well.

  • The honours system seems a ludicrously round about way of maintaining morale in the civil service.

  • Foregone Conclusion 12th Jun '10 - 10:54pm

    “The honours system seems a ludicrously round about way of maintaining morale in the civil service.”

    But a rather cheap one.

  • Iain Coleman 13th Jun '10 - 2:27am

    So far as I can tell, the only practical effect of these honours is that the recipients have their pictures splashed all over the newspapers. That being the case, it seems only right and proper that they should be bestowed primarily upon especially good-looking people.

  • Michael Seymour 13th Jun '10 - 7:44am

    I fail to see why honours are awarded to people who are just doing their job as well as they can, particularly civil servants. Many of us spend our lives doing our job as best as we can, but we don’t get special awards for it.

  • Deniece Fisher 13th Jun '10 - 8:45am

    I agree with that Michael.

  • If by “public recognition” you mean “getting em out in public for the lads”, then yes, Catherine Zeta Jones does need more public recognition.

  • “a girl from the valleys”

    Which valley would that be David?

    I thought she was from Swansea ….

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