Celeb Craze – So how fanatic are we?
Ajith - Vijay  

A friend of mine called me recently. He was apparently not pleased with the way his Thalaivar’s recently released movie was reviewed. Part of the life of a lesser-known movie critic. The 10-minute long conversation was fair enough for me to understand that his feelings were offended. Although I couldn’t help but justify myself, I was perfectly sure that I did not write anything obnoxiously offensive to hurt his sentiments. However, I could sense that the reasonable criticism with which the movie was reviewed was enough to provoke him.

This, however, is not a lone incident. It’s almost every day that we stumble upon such staunch loyalists of actors who get hurt easily or almost ready for a brawl when comments are passed about their ‘Thalaivars’- seriously or otherwise.

So how celeb-fanatic are we? Quite alarmingly! The energy invested in voraciously demonstrating support towards the release of movies of the so-called favorite stars proves this argument. Offerings of milk and beer (what a weird combo

though!), garlands, larger-than-life-size posters, cutouts, and banners. But one wonders if the respective stars contribute at least a pittance of whatever money is blown out towards these expenses.

Fandom, in this regard, could be classified into two in my opinion. The first category of fandom borders anywhere between curiosity and keenness. In simple terms, if you can’t get enough of the celebrities and succulent gossips involving them and go straight to Page 3 in any newspaper, you belong to this category. Not to mention, you will also find the endless news updates aired on innumerable television channels quite addictive. After all, Page 3 reporting is big business and lots of media houses thrive on this (count us in here).

The first category of fandom is almost harmless, provided you don’t consume hours together flipping through all the magazines and newspapers that come out everyday, or spend hours vegetating as a couch potato.

The second category of fandom consists of extreme dedication. They are serious people with a clear goal and determination - to safeguard the likes and movies of their role models. They also perform abhishekams before the first show and burn incenses to display their affection towards their heroes. They hurl flowers, rupee bills, and other interesting stuff aiming at the screen on the first day of their hero’s movie release. Within this category lurks a sub-fandom who are more fan(atics) than fans, and they sometimes turn violent.

To fuel such fanaticism, there are fan clubs that mushroom mysteriously even for a single-film wonder. While virtual fan clubs swarm the internet, every street corner in India is rife with at least a couple of display boards propagating the existence of such clubs in actual reality. The effective functioning and the rationale behind such clubs, however, always remain a concept of perennial argument. That apart, social networking sites provide an easily reachable platform for such fan clubs where healthy and perverse topics are discussed alongside each other in many threads.

Now that leaves us with a question. Where to draw a line between curiosity and fanaticism? Or is fanaticism after all okay as a mode of being?

Maintaining a balanced interest that lies somewhere in between the two categories is an ideal way to deal with celebrity fandom. Besides, as long as the individual is aware of the level of involvement – and that this does not prove to be a hurdle to his personal growth – fandom stays in control.

Above all, history provides enough evidence to prove that we really are celebrity-crazed and future prospects in this regard don’t look any rosy either. For as long as we have parents who beam at kids, as young as 5, when they strike a pose like their favorite star or display antics just like him, change is impossible.

Start from home, said somebody!

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