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On sale

26th October 2023

Price: £22

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349727134

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‘Brilliant . . . really made me realise how no one has pulled back and given an overall story to the last 20 years . . . It’s clever because it makes me think about now’ ADAM CURTIS, FILMMAKER

Britney, Paris, Lindsay, Aaliyah, Janet, Amy, Kim, Chyna, Jen. Nine iconic women whose fame in the early internet years of the century came at a price. In Toxic: Women, Fame and The Noughties, journalist Sarah Ditum describes how each of the women changed ‘celebrity’ forever, despite often falling victim to it, during what we now view as one of the most hostile eras in which to be female.

Through Paris’ ambivalent relationship with her blogger namesake Perez Hilton; to Britney’s paternalistic governors; Jen’s attempts to control her career and image; and Janet’s betrayal at the Superbowl, these celebrities of The Noughties were presented with the riches of early social media and market opportunity, as long as they abided by the new rules of engagement. Some of these high-profile women were hypersexualised and ‘upskirted’ by the press; some were shamed by their advertising sponsors; others were contracted by shady management companies and industry figures such as Harvey Weinstein and R Kelly. Together they illuminate the culture of the early twenty-first century. Toxic: Women, Fame and The Noughties is a wild ride through the millennial years.


Gaby Hinsliff, Observer, BOOK OF THE DAY
'Ditum's hotly anticipated book brilliantly captures the prevailing millennial mood of anti-nostalgia...a damn good thesis'
Victoria Smith, The Critic
'extremely compelling'
Helen Barrett, Financial Times
'Ditum's prose is never overwrought, and she treats pop culture with a rare seriousness. She is right to do so. The women who came of age in the noughties are entering middle age, with all the agency that brings. The Woman in Me, Spears's memoir, published on Tuesday this week, with much-trailed revelations that include her mental decline following the height of her fame. Toxic, Ditum's reframing of an era, suggests that the uproar over Brand may have been just the beginning of a reckoning.'
Anna Manov, New Statesman
Steven Poole, Guardian - BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'furious and funny'
Eithne Farry, Daily Express
'(a) pageturning exploration of a time when new technology and old misogyny collided and the concept of privacy collapsed.'
Sarah Gilmartin, Irish Times
Ditum gets the tone right: critically engaged, well-researched, colourful without seeming exploitative... a serious book of reportage.... For readers interested in real celebrity journalism... get off the internet and into a bookshop and ask for Toxic.
Helen Lewis, author of DIFFICULT WOMEN
Living through the 00s, I never realised how casually cruel they were - how cruel we were - to famous women. Toxic is an incendiary page-turner that will make you reconsider the price of fame . . . and your opinion of Kim Kardashian. It's a Molotov cocktail hurled at the feet of celebrity culture
Fiona Sturges, Guardian
'In the aftermath of #MeToo, there have already been reckonings over the treatment of Spears (through the documentary Framing Britney Spears and her recent memoir), Winehouse (in Asif Kapadia's Amy) and Aaliyah (in Surviving R Kelly). Recent allegations against the comedian Russell Brand, which he denies, have further thrown the period's rampant sexism and double standards into relief. Nonetheless, a broader account of this febrile period in 21st-century culture, which looks ever more baffling the further we travel from it, has felt long overdue. With the variously disturbing and illuminating Toxic, Ditum has risen to the challenge.'
Eithne Farry, Daily Express
'(A) pageturning exploration of a time when new technology and old misogyny collided and the concept of privacy collapsed.'
Caroline Criado Perez, author of INVISIBLE WOMEN
A necessary and incisive feminist reckoning with the noughties. Insightful, exhilarating - and horrifying. What were we thinking?
Adam Curtis, filmmaker
Brilliant . . . made me realise how no one has pulled back and given an overall story to the last twenty years . . . It's clever because it makes me think about now
Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton
'When I discovered Toxic I was immediately taken by the depth of Sarah's dedication, research and writing.'
Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller Editor's Choice
A bracing feminist appraisal of the pre #MeToo Noughties . . . explores how the media created a new and brutal environment in which the rules of engagement between celebrities, the press and public were changed