Gemma Collins. “The GC”. Whatever you want to call her, she’s like Marmite. You either love her or hate her. And I love her. Here’s why.
How many of you have scrolled through pages upon pages on Facebook called ‘Gemma Collins memes’, ‘Gemma Collins reactions’ or ‘Gemma Collins appreciation page’?
How many of you have then proceeded to tag friends in the comments of said memes? And have you watched YouTube compilations of her best bits, be it on TOWIE, I’m a Celebrity or Celebrity Big Brother?
Yeah, I know you’re guilty.
I am too.
We’ve all done it, and we’ve all laughed.
* This quote is actually my friend’s Instagram bio. Literally just this quote. On it’s own.
The question is, are we laughing at Gemma, or with her?
Lines like “It’s GEMMA, you silly c***” and “I’m claustrophobic Darren!” have become instantly recognisable from her stint in Celebrity Big Brother, and nobody can forget that helicopter ride on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Gemma’s popularity on reality television has made her an internet sensation, and in a way the memes and videos circulating our newsfeeds have become free PR and marketing tools for Gemma and her various projects.
How? Well, you are constantly seeing her face everywhere you scroll. And it makes her hard to forget. Even organisations such as the BBC have got involved by posting this on their official BBC One Facebook page to brighten up everyone’s Monday:
And, let’s not forget that infamous fall at Radio 1’s Teen Awards. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Gemma fell down a hole in the stage while presenting an award. And it was hilarious. Since then, the footage has gained millions of views online and it has contributed to Gemma’s persona as the butt of the joke. With all things considered, some may argue that the fall could have been a publicity stunt on Gemma’s part. She’s a clever woman, after all. Whether or not it was an accident, though, we have to ask ourselves:
Would it have been as funny if it were someone else?
No, definitely not.
A bit like Beyonce’s “Sasha Fierce”, or Christina Aguilera’s “Xtina”, “The GC” is a kind of alter-ego-like persona that Gemma has created in order to establish her personal brand. At the end of the day, Gemma Collins wasn’t always “The GC”. Before TOWIE, she sold used cars for a living. “The GC” is a social construct which has emerged out of Gemma’s realisation that we love it when she acts like a diva, and that we are endorsing it every time we press play on a video or ‘like’ a meme. For example, Gemma’s book is entitled ‘The GC – How To Be A Diva’, and she’s using her diva attitude and its proven popularity to sell copies of it.
When interviewed on Loose Women, Gemma was asked about the memes and how she felt about them. She said,
“Honestly, I find them so funny. It’s gone all around the world. I’ve got people retweeting from Florida. It’s crazy. It’s scary how something like that can just take off.”
In another Instagram post, Gemma reposted a fan-created meme in order to promote a new project she was filming, even tagging the fan-created Instagram page @gemmareacts in her post. A lot of us probably clicked on this post because we saw it was a Gemma Collins meme, not realising it was actually an advertisement. And by clicking on it, and even liking it, we gave her more internet traffic. And probably put more money in her pocket. Gemma hasn’t played any part in creating this meme culture, all she’s done is act like a bit of a diva. But now, she is reaping the benefits of a little bit of free PR.
So, the question is, is Gemma Collins merely the butt of our jokes, or is she in on them? The publicity Gemma has gained from viral memes created by fans and endorsed by our love to laugh at her has made her a lot of money (yeah, you’re probably now thinking of her famous line in CBB: “AVVV GOT MONEY!”). As of August 2018 Gemma was estimated to be worth around £2.7 million. As well as this fortune, she also has her own clothing line; as well as lines with fashion retailers Boohoo, SimplyBe and Evans, and her own boutique in London. And yeah, she was on TOWIE to begin with – all this fame hasn’t come solely from her popularity on the internet. But it is definitely a huge factor. So, who’s laughing now? Definitely not me, although I’ll come back to you when the compilation of my funniest moments goes live on YouTube.
PS: you didn’t really think I was going to end this blog without attaching some classic Gemma Collins content for your entertainment, did you? Because, we’re all just here to enjoy ourselves. GC style. D’ya know whatta mean? Now, get that fire exit door, I’m off!
Anna Stewart is an MSc Communication and Public Relations with Advertising student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @astewart95 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-stewart-b3127a139/