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HindustanTimes Mon,24 Nov 2014
Are we celebrity obsessed?
Anoushka Shankar, Hindustan Times
November 14, 2009
First Published: 09:49 IST(14/11/2009)
Last Updated: 09:50 IST(14/11/2009)

I’m sorry, but I have a small issue with the newspaper in your hands that I need to vent about. I think it’s more indicative of the media in general, and not this particular publication, which, of course (ahem) I’m particularly partial to, and not just because they give me a quarter page’s worth of space to rant and rave in every week. (Thanks HT!)

As you may be aware, two weeks ago there was a large Leadership Summit organised by Hindustan Times. How wonderful is that! I turned to the pages about the Summit, and was faced with a story about how Saif and Kareena met, what they find cute about each other, and what nicknames they call each other by. Umm, seriously? Do the coochie-coos of a celebrity couple belong in the key editorial space about a Leadership Summit? Isn’t it enough that that’s all over the City section of the newspaper on a constant basis? I understand it’s what people want to read about, but can it at least please be in context? Why does our world give the same importance to an article about a film star’s love life as it does to the future of our economy or environment?

Let me clarify that I have absolutely nothing against “Saifeena” (ugh) as a couple, as actors, or as people. But how far is this nonsensical obsession with them, with film stars, and with celebrity in general, going to go? It’s fine to look up to people, to admire them, or to enjoy what they are offering. But this bizarre world confuses the living daylights out of me at times. Is everyone actually happy to obsess over stars to this degree, reading about them everyday, emulating them, copying their look, and buying what products they sell? How much is too much?

Perhaps not everyone agrees with me, but overall I feel that celebrity-driven media and the obsession with their personal lives has gone way too far. Of course it’s not unique to India, and media worldwide trips over itself trying to keep up with the public’s insatiable appetite for inane trivia like what celebrities dress their babies in, what they eat for breakfast and who they spoke to at the grocery store. 

But why is that? And why does it feel worse to me in India? Perhaps, here, there is a smaller pool of A-list stars, and so one sees more of the same faces than elsewhere? Abroad, there might be a Posh’n’Becks or a Beyonce that stare out at you from every newsstand on a daily basis, but overall, it’s not as overwhelming as here. Here, a soda ad appears and reappears at ten-foot intervals along the length of an entire highway. And my life feels like that highway, as I turn from my breakfast newspaper to TV news or travel channel to shopping trip to night out, and am faced with the same faces, everywhere I turn.


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