In tabloid journalism, respect for the truth and the other person’s dignity never existed, that’s why it is politely termed ‘trash’ or a ‘rag’. All the hoolaa in the media about wronging celebrities got me thinking about something that I have realised for a very long time. In much the manner that terrorism becomes a clinical act of violence, where those who cover the crime beat begin to lose touch with humanity, sensitivity and emotion simply because after a point it is too hard to keep up; in much the same manner (but with no similar justification), the general media treats a celebrity like an object they own – to be used for sensationalism and to sell copies. After all, money taints many things and when money is involved (think buyers, subscribers, advertisers and targets) there is a very clinical attitude towards celebs. They end up being names, that people throw around, that are replaceable by the next available or prominent personality. They are evaluated like objects with features, and their time is up for grabs.
But we forget that just as quickly as we are willing to sully friendships for cheap gossip, we are willing to drag celebrity-strangers through the muck because their pain is irrelevant to us. A conscience is an archaic word that has lost meaning a long time ago. And since when are celebrities people? It appears to be a price we believe they should pay because they enjoy fame: it is a way to level the field. You can’t have the cake and eat it too, you should end up paying for it in some way, and that is by being muck-mired.
Even if a celebrity has chosen the path of the limelight, nowhere have they signed up for public humiliation. If it has become a part-and-parcel of public life, it is because, we as an audience, have made it acceptable. It is because we buy, read and excitedly discuss Aishwarya’s supposed health problems, Hrithik’s spring cleaning, Deepika’s relationships and Imran’s equations with his co-stars. We choose the lower road, and that makes us as bad at the media who print stuff like this.
Whether the rumours and true or false, whether the celebrity is a good person or bad is logically irrelevant to his/her job. Just the way we judged Clinton’s presidency on the basis of his sexual choices or Tiger Wood’s golf game on the basis of his loyalty to his marriage, we are wrongly judging our own actor or a sports-person on his/ her personal life. If they open their life to us, it is their choice; if not, still their choice. But spreading rumours (whether based in fact or fiction) about their personal life should not be our choice. As media and as readers we should be merely interested in relevant facts – or is that too boring for our palate now? Can we digest dull, boring facts after being brought up on a gourmet diet of tasty hearsay, rumour and Chinese whispers?
Is it not our responsibility to respect the people we admire for who they are, who they appear to be, who they may be, and for who they may not be? Isn’t that being human? And shouldn’t we concentrate on good sport and on good cinema, as opposed to trying to be a voyeur into another’s life? Really, let live and let be.
Actually, get a life – your own.