All that glitters

Modern Mythmaking 15 Comments

Published in Devlok, Sunday Midday, August 01, 2010


There is a consulting firm which loves to advertise. Once upon a time, they were represented by a brilliant golf player. The advertising suggested that the firm was as good as the sportsman. But then there was a scandal. The brilliant sportsman with a gentle grin and schoolboy charm turned out to be a serial womanizer, sleeping around, with the arrogance that comes with success. The world was shocked; the consulting firm dropped him from all advertising. He was no longer a suitable brand ambassador. Fearful of celebrities, the new brand ambassador of the firm is a wild elephant. Animals, unlike humans, do not live double lives. What you see is what you get.

At around the same time, another scandal broke out. There was this politician who gained popularity and respect because he spoke for the environment. He became the champion of the global green movement. His talks touched the chord with the youth. But today, the same man is accused of at least two sexual misdemeanours; his wife of several decades has filed for divorce.

The sportsman is still a brilliant sportsman. But his smile is no longer charming. The politician is still a brilliant speaker. But today, when he walks in he lacks the respect he once commanded.

The tragedy is that because of the action of these two men, and others like them, one does not know what to believe. Now whenever, I see a ‘wholesome’ celebrity, I wonder – what is he, or she, hiding? What lies behind the mask? Every role model, one feels, is projecting part of the truth. The whole truth is not so wholesome.

And so one remembers the story from the Ramayana of the golden deer that Sita wanted to possess. It turned out to be a demon whose sole intention was to lure Sita’s husband away from Sita. One remembers the story of the hermit who asked Sita for alms, who turned out to be the demon-king, Ravan, in disguise.

Later in the epic, Laxman says how he has lost all faith in animals and hermits. He feels they are all demons in disguise. And Ram says, “What is worse than kidnapping Sita, is that Ravan and his minions have destroyed our trust in the innocent.” Every time future generations are attracted by something beautiful, they will fear it is Marichi in disguise. Every time a hermit comes knocking asking for alms, people will wonder if he is actually what he claims to be. Destruction of faith is the worst of sins.

But expecting celebrities to be perfect is putting too much burden on them. They are ultimately human beings and all human beings are flawed. I think somewhere deep in our hearts we resent the success of the celebrity – the attention they get, the money they make. We want to punish them. And we do so by placing them on a high moral pedestal. We impose the burden of perfection on them. And they have to grin and bear it if they wish to retain their exalted position. They are like Atlas of Greek mythology holding up the sky. We will not allow Atlas to shrug.

  • Dr Pramod Bankar

    wah,wah,very good

  • Yps

    Commenting on the last para – “But expecting celebrities . . .”. I believe celebrities are the first lot who should never be thought of as perfect. They are more prone to follies due to the life that they lead. The difference is that the flaws of celebrities become fodder for the media whereas the same acts by lesser unknowns go unnoticed.

    • u r rite wen you say – “they are more prone to follies…”

  • Krishna’s Devotee

    The real celebrety is God. and He is known by his qualities,Kishna which means all atractive. All other so called celebreties are cheaters and saddest thing is that they are cheating themselves.

  • Liked it.

    And here’s an improvisation – “What you SEEK is what you get…” :-)

    • Pravin

      I like it too.

      “What you SEEK is what you get…”

  • I know that everyone is human and can make a mistake but with a position there has to be responsiblity .and there has to be simple code of behavier to be followed.above mentioned people have behaved disgracefully .It is a shame on them,man with intelligence is different from animals.And dignity of behaviar should be part of aman who holds a position in society.

    • pankaj

      well said!
      it’s social responsibility expected from them as they are the one who dominates the heart of the youth

  • Gaurav

    First of all this advertising businees is far from honest. The advertisers are neither people’s well wishers nor bound by a harmonious value system. So there is no surprise in what is happening with the celebrities or in the advertising make believe world.

  • Sriram Iyer

    I dont agree with your statement that “I think somewhere deep in our hearts we resent the success of the celebrity – the attention they get, the money they make. We want to punish them. And we do so by placing them on a high moral pedestal.”

    I think our celebrities have a lot of influence on the minds of young children rather than matured adults. At that age and formative mind, children accept what they see and hear with minimal sway for success or money. Given that organizations understand this influence that celebities have over a large part of our population, some important questions that come to my mind –
    1. Since a majority of people believe what their favorite celebrity vouches for, is it right for the celebrity to break the individuals trust?
    2. Since lot of people look up to them as models on which they base their life, is it not fair to expect them to keep a level of moral responsibility?

  • This one i guess comes from deep observation followed by intense analyzing and then seeking connections between the spiritual and the actual world around us…. I agree wholly on this so i have probed in further with my own views over this – chk out the the blog dedicated for representing the flip side view of Mr. Devdutt…though this time, it won’t be a flip side view but instead just an extended one :)

  • Sushama Chaudhari

    I agree with Mr.Devdutt that yes somewhere deep inside we either hate or resent the celebrities .. As it happens we sometimes idealise them.. their life wow.. evrythng seems great about it.. their work.. status.. their endorsements.. etc.. so when our illusions about them are cleared and reality dawns.. we feel decieved..

  • uppili chakrapany

    This makes me recall a southbased young godman who talked philosophy successfully and who later found to have indulged in backroom romances with an actress.
    He had lot of books published of his speeches and they were good reading too (though said to be ghost written). As I liked the expressions and normally do not go by the personalities, I searched for his books post-scandal as I expected them to be given out for a song but I did not find them even in the roadside. When the world pushes someone out, it does lock, stock and barrel.

  • Gaurav

    i often wonder exposing personal life of these celebrities is justified ?

    But then, these people often use their good image not their acting / sporting skills to market themselves and earn huge endorsements.

    so when this image is tarnished they should be ready to pay for it.

  • Santtosh Kumar Arya

    Destruction of faith is the worst of sins – What about our politicians. Any inputs?