Intruder Alert!

The concept of “celebrity” dominates the world today. Stars are everywhere – on TV, in magazines, on billboards, at parties…it seems like they cannot be avoided (and some more than others, of course, but that’s a topic for another article). They’re people, all right, just not quite. They lead exciting, fast-paced lives that are as glamorous and appealing as they are unattainable.

Their admirers, quite naturally, are fascinated by celebrities and their lives, perhaps all the more so because the two seem so unbelievably perfect. It must feel good to be adored and cosseted and significant. Unfortunately, several notable figures take exception to all this attention and harp on about keeping their private lives private. This brings to light an important question – do stars have a right to privacy?

It may be argued that what goes on in a celebrity’s personal life is none of our business, but if it’s not our business, i.e., their fans – then whose business is it? Maybe we need to examine the aforementioned celebrity concept further; quite simply put, a celebrity is a person who receives fabulous amounts of money because people are interested in him or her. This implies that if people were not interested in the celebrity, he or she would not be a celebrity. If we are to get down to the basics, it must be pointed out that stars that jealously guard their lives are only living those lives because of the public and the media and the attention they get from both sources. Don’t the public and the media then have some right over them? Or should celebrities be fawned over and lavished attention upon only when it suits their purposes? It’s shameful, really, that such arrogance and ingratitude exists in the people we put up on such high pedestals.

Before some smart-alec retorts that stars receive their phenomenal salaries for their work and not their personal appeal, take pity on the innumerable professionals in other fields who work just as hard or much harder and don’t get nearly the same benefits. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, journalists, designers, scientists; they all slog at their jobs. Yet, they get paid a small fraction of the amount that actors, for instance, get. Which is not to say that actors don’t work hard; I’m sure a lot of them do, but the work they do is not proportionate to the income they earn.

Stars love to bad-mouth the media, conveniently overlooking the fact that the media serves as their fairy godmother, granting them their wish for stardom. One must remember that stars are not born, they are made, and, it is the media that has it in its power to make or break an aspirant. In the last one year, with several promising debutantes entering the Hindi film industry, this fact has been clearly demonstrated. It has been impossible to ignore the hype and, despite all your efforts, you may find yourself taking an interest in those unknown faces. Their success is consequently ensured, for they have achieved exactly what they set out to – they have grabbed your attention. And the ones you don’t hear about so much? If they’re lucky, they’ll get a break sometime. If not, they fade into oblivion.

It’s quite natural that celebrities are followed, photographed and talked about wherever they go and whatever they do. It comes with the territory. Our lives seem so boring and uneventful compared to theirs and, let’s face it, we need something to talk about. For them, all publicity is good publicity. So it works out for the both of us – a fair exchange, in fact. We are all subject to the law that everything comes with a price; why should celebrities be exempt from it? And it must be noted that all of them consciously enter this business. The thought of losing their privacy does not deter them from aspiring to be celebrities, so why should this haughtiness suddenly set in? Perhaps they feel secure enough in their positions to abandon all pretense of regard for their fans; they know they can get away with it. I notice, however, that none of them give up their stardom after attaining it, so clearly it is more precious to them than the loss of their private lives.

In a way, a celebrity is the personal property of each and every one of his or her fans. Truthfully, most of us are never going to be personally acquainted with our favourite stars, so we are free to cherish our own perceptions about them. We love the images we have of them in our minds and we want to know as much as we possibly can about them. In return, we give them everything they want – fame, fortune, respect and the fulfillment of their dreams. I’d say we’re even. After all, like its often said, “There is no business like show business”.

Aishwarya Jha


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