So, do you want to be famous?

2014-04-08 07:23

One has to think about this one. It is indeed a tricky question.

I have also been following the court case that has captured the imagination of so many people inside or outside the country.

And yes I have been ‘feasting’ -as a caller on 702 Talk Radio said -on the case because of the dynamics of it all. I have a very clear opinion on the matter based on my own life experience, common sense and the information presented. However, I don’t want to talk about that today. Let the trial run its course and let us consider all the facts on the table. It is indeed a daunting task to think that a ruling must be made on all the volumes and volumes of information, witness statements and expert opinions.

At the heart of the matter lies the fame of the young man. The young lady was also a rising star in her own right. The young man as we all know was born with an unusual disability but decided early on in his life that he will not feel sorry for himself. And from humble beginnings he gradually became a global icon and household name. This is no small achievement. It would not be unfair to say that he has it all: talent, good looks, money and of course the fame.

He is certainly not the first South African sport icon who has had to battle some serious allegations. Who will forget the famous cricket captain and the match fixing scandal surrounding him eventually ending with his tragic and untimely death? Then there is the famous rugby player who also made the news headlines for all the wrong reasons. First the strong denials but in the end the confession of what many had hoped was not true.

Ironically all these ‘cases’ have had strong religious undertones. The person would say something to the effect that: look I would never do this as it is against the principles of my faith. The famous rugby player is in a battle for his life and continues to soldier on to get better. He seems to have chosen a positive approach and from what I can gather from media reports now work to better the lives of those in a similar position. You have to admire his courage.

My guess is that fame often comes uninvited. It happens gradually. And let’s face it we all have dreams. We all have a need to be appreciated and even to be admired. I often hear how my children talk about buying Audi R8s and Lamborghinis. I have however noticed that as they get older reality sets in and dreams are scaled down. But this is what sets these heroes apart from most of us: they actually realise their dreams, maybe even exceed it. They overcome personal obstacles and criticism to get to the top of their games. We admire, applaud and adore them and to my mind, rightly so.

But here’s the scary thing: as a famous rapper said: ‘When I leave my house I belong to the rest of the world.’

You have less space to move in without being noticed when you are famous. Going to the local shopping mall is no longer that easy. You have to look like a star and your PR has to be top notch, all the time. People want to see you look happy and successful. It must be a bitter-sweet concoction of emotions: the deep joy of seeing the admiration yet frustrating reality of people always invading one’s private space. Even more infuriating must be that the public seem to think that they have every right to do so. Everything and I mean everything is under the magnifying glass. The successes and as we have seen, now more so than ever: the failures.

The young man’s behaviour, life and affairs are being analysed on a daily basis. People make premature and careless judgments as they try to work through their own trauma about the incident. Some cry, others joke and many simply wonder: why did this happen to this fellow? Did he bring it on himself?

Would he have been under this severe scrutiny if he was not famous? ‘Public interest’ they say is the overriding principle. In other words, as there are many people who are interested in the case and its outcome, it is okay to give it this unprecedented coverage. On the one hand I appreciate the fact that I have access to a 24 hour channel that covers the trial. Is it selfish of me? But what about the families of the parties involved? Fifteen months ago they were just ordinary citizens, now they are the brother, uncle or mother of so and so.

Is it fair to them?

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