Wednesday, December 9

A Matter of Publicity

One bug that seems to have bitten every person who is or is a wannabe celebrity is PUBLICITY. It is interesting to see the levels to which people will stoop just to get their picture published in a newspaper, or getting aired on television even if it is just for a moment.

Whenever I read ‘Bombay Times’, inadvertently my gaze settles on the Page 3 section which is filled with excerpts of some high-profile party, some brunch or some social-do. It is complete with the list of attendants; the A-listers and Page 3 regulars. The reporter religiously reports on what the menu was, who wore what and who made a fashion faux-pas. What I find very endearing is when these people organize a fund-raising show for underprivileged kids or some social cause, and they come for the event dressed as if it was a fashion parade. They wouldn’t have an inkling of why they’re there but they’d ‘support the cause’ for what it is worth! So much for publicity!

Our film stars have always fancied this. Whether it’s the release of a movie, judging or participating in a reality show, and if nothing else, featuring in commercials, we see them splashed all over, in all forms of media. These people never fail to grab an opportunity to make an appearance, even if it is someone’s wedding, birthday or even a funeral(remember Teji Bacchan’s funeral or the latest, Shilpa Shetty’s wedding?). They turn up for the event dressed in their designer’s best, gladly posing for the cameras and giving some pertinent responses. They have very public affairs and break-ups, both of which ensure ample print-space for them.

The lesser mortals, for whom the doors won’t open on their own, adopt tried-and-tested methods. Attaching your name to a famous personality accusing him/her of using you or making bold statements, which are sure to make eye-balls roll. No one knew Monica Lewinsky before her affair with Bill Clinton came out or the recent Tiger Woods’ series of affairs with many girls which don’t seem to stop! These men had to face the wrath of the whole world, but the girls became celebrities overnight. The truth behind these incidents is irrelevant, what matters is that these girls got the better deal, everyway.

Closer home, the best example for this would be Rakhi Sawant. The kind of stories about her that we see and read is both desperate and cheap. We see her appearing on reality shows; trapped in a house with few others, picking up her groom in her ‘swayamwar’ or trying to raise kids with her current partner. We see her histrionics after she breaks up with whoever she was with, if she’s signed for a movie or there’s something brewing between her family members. What’s worse is that people do fall prey to these gimmicks and all this hype usually pays off.

This signifies the sorry state of journalism and media responsibility, worldwide. In their quest to increase their viewership and readership media populace would do anything. Added to that the desperate brigade of wannabe celebrities, and we have a coalition publicity campaign.

What needs to be understood is that too much public scrutiny can mar a person’s or couple’s image. Jennifer Aniston had said that her marriage with Brad Pitt broke because of the constant media glare. Princess Diana lost her life while trying to hide away from the paparazzi. We know that as public figures these people owe us some amount of accountability, but it is for them to decide where to draw the line. And for us, well, it’s good to get entertained but not cool when it is in bad taste.
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