When the sad tale of the greatest golfer’s fall from grace, or more aptly, fall from the stereotype, broke recently, I was glad that I was not in his cleats.
Just the other day, I was lamenting the fact that my books weren’t best•sellers, yet (you see, I am ever hopeful, and vain). But with best•seller status comes celebrity and intrusion and conformance to publicly held standards that the public themselves have difficulty attaining. The celebrity becomes the de•facto symbol of all that we (Joe Blow Public) have been unable to accomplish in our lives – our dream, our mirage. And when that bubble pops, the fallen celebrity is attacked with venom that is unjustified. How dare he burst my bubble?
The public spotlight is a lonely one, especially when that spotlight is conferred by corporate sponsorship and brand imagery that the celebrity is supposed to enhance. One wonders if the emerging celebrity’s own brand is neutered to become a subset of the sponsor’s existing brand, and never really stands on its own.
And what about his competition: the ones who can now jump in and fill the void, and who have been waiting impatiently to grab at some of the spoils, albeit under visages of equally clean living gentlemen who have never transgressed?
And what about immediate family members? Do they circle the wagons and protect the fallen one, or do they also pounce and pick at what pieces are left, lining their own pockets and leaving the carcass to the next level of celebrity: the notorious tabloids that will make our former celebrity weekly faire for the next few months, linking him with scandals true and untrue, until they have milked him for every bit of news and turned him into the monster they have portrayed him to be?
So this poor celebrity is shouldering quite a few weights already: the need to keep winning in his chosen field of endeavour, the need to behave in a manner that supports and enhances corporate sponsors, the need to portray an image of success that his public following can never emulate, the need to suppress his own desires and aspirations should they ever digress from all of the above. And while doing all of that, he can never totally rely on family support as he desperately tries to stay out of the hands of the tabloids. By Jove, that’s a heavy load! No wonder the Risk•Reward diagram is like a see•saw and not a circle, as I had once though it to be. What goes around does not necessarily come around in equal measure for celebrities; it comes around accompanied by either a sack full of dough or a millstone.
So, as the New Year is upon us, I am secretly glad that I am not a celebrity – yet (I told you I was vain!) And I wonder, if that day ever comes, whether I would have the energy to withstand a PR faux pas, however innocuous it may be? Or whether I would long for these days when even if I had jumped off the CN Tower, I may not have warranted more than a footnote in the local rag— “Fruitcake Tries to Fly Off Tall Building.”