Sukad nisikat, hambugero na kaayo siya noh? Roughly translated, it means: fame has really gotten into his head now donít you think so? Itís a common enough observation from people who have nothing better to do than the sport of people-watching.
Imagine such a scene: a gaggle of lazy asses under a cafť canopy, waiting for something, or anything at all to happen, while talking about everyone under the sun except themselves and each other while sipping insanely expensive gourmet coffee. And as chance would have it, an innocent soul happens to pass by only then to become the target of their envious stares and indiscriminate tongues. The hapless victim never did anything to earn their disrespect or ire. Only that he plays guitar for an up and coming band. Only that heís popular now.
So now does he really walk differently now? Does his gait now betray a newly acquired confidence and pomp? I bet not. Does he dress with more flair now? Perhaps speak with a slightly louder, more overbearing tone? I bet not either. More likely, it all is just in the imagination of the fickle observers.
True, fame affects people. Who wouldnít be affected when total strangers now recognize you in the street? But oftentimes, the change in behaviour is not due to a bloated confidence but rather a newly discovered self-consciousness. Not arrogance, but unease. Many canít seem to acknowledge the possibility that fame did not corrupt the person, who for all his unpretentiousness, is still basically the same person. It is just their image of him that has been corrupted.
Of course, much has been said about the real enough corrupting effects of fame. We all have our personal stories to share of people whoíve suddenly grown in stature only to let it all get to their heads. Absurd backstage requests from demanding divas, celebrities who refuse to sign autographs, arrogant rockstars, the list goes on.
Yes, there are the genuine pigs in showbusiness who look down on everybody like they owned the world plus a fleet of SUVs. I say theyíve always been pigs since the day they learned to walk and bully playmates. Fame didnít corrupt them. It only magnified their inherent corruptness.
Ah, but such are animals. What about the people around them, the fans, the friends, and those pretending to be friends. I bet they are more affected by the halo of fame radiating outwards. Overly solicitous, overly patronizing, and overacting. If those who are proud of their fame are animals, then those who grovel in their presence are parasites. Much worse.
Iíve listened to people talk about celebrities like they were childhood chums when their only real connection was that they once sat across each other in a hotel lobby. Then there are the casual acquaintances who suddenly act like close friends to now famous celebrities to impress others. It gets worse. There are the envious lot who dismiss the success of others with biased criticism. Thereís no pleasing them. The typical comments are that their band isnít as good as the fans say they are. Or that their music is unremarkable, and that they wouldnít have gone far were it not for their string of lucky breaks.
The funny thing is all these self-appointed critics would never have taken a second look at these emerging bands were it not for the attention being bestowed on them by other people and the media. Attention that essentially, makes for the fame that these bands now enjoy. In short, if they werenít at all famous, they wouldnít have given a ratís ass.
So which then is more pathetic: enjoying the popularity one gets whether deserved or otherwise, or grovelling in the presence of fame? Or what then is worse: pursuing fame, whether intentionally or inadvertently, or sneering at it with veiled envy?
Casey Kasem, the voice we all know from the American Top 40 closed his program with the line: Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars! I say if you donít care for the stars, donít pull the rug from under those who do.