On my first visit to London as a young man I passed the unbelievable crowds outside of one of the English capital’s main attractions. No, not the Tower of London, not Buckingham Palace and not the London Eye (that wasn’t even built at the time). What I struggled to get past that day was Madame Tussauds. Even in those days, before smart phones, before Twitter, and before the unstoppable force of the Mail Online’s sidebar of shame, I thought it was a little odd. Aside from whether you think the models inside are accurate representations of the famous people they are supposed to look like, what really is the point of the museum?
Clearly, there’s some skill in sculpting something that looks so lifelike, but I don’t think anyone is going to admire the craftsman’s handiwork. The attraction must be the thrill of seeing a celebrity. But there’s nothing real about them – there’s no original outfits or memorabilia, not even a lock of hair. So you go in, walk around, and look at fairly good likenesses of famous people. Why not just hang photographs of them up? Then they’d be exact replicas. Or play a short video of said celeb – watch them move!
Now, if I want to see a celebrity regularly, let’s say Tom Hardy, I only have to turn to my phone and within seconds he’s there. Hundreds of pictures of him. Looking exactly like he looks. I can also watch him at home using new streaming service Startz Play (think of Netflix and you’re in the right ballpark). The US site had an official launch for its Arabian version last week. It will have a library of about 3,000 movies, kids’ shows and television series.
Reading the story about its launch party, I noticed one thing in particular. It was held in a Dubai restaurant called Taste of Fame. The photographs showed a star-studded bash. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were there, as were George Clooney and Will Smith. Elton John was even on hand to play the piano. It looked amazing. They were also all waxworks, who are permanent residents of the Jumeirah Sunset Mall venue. And it looked absolutely brilliant. Who wouldn’t want to bite on a burger while Justin Bieber peers around a pillar? Or slurp on some soup with Superman standing behind you? And who’s that over by the door? Albert Einstein, that’s who. I take it all back. Waxworks are fantastic. I can’t wait for my wedding anniversary now.
Paul Clifford is our guides & supplements editor. He’s definitely not in charge of booking the Christmas party this year.