Fame, scandals and privacy are the buzzwords this week.
At the top of the news is the saga of Tareq and Michaele Salahi who gatecrashed a State Dinner at the White House, and even got up-close with President Obama.
It used to be that one has to be good at something to be famous. But the Salahis reflect the current trend of chasing or attracting fame at any cost. Some commentators blame reality TV for this. People are voyeurs. If you open up your life to the world, the good as well as the messy parts, you stand a good chance of becoming a famous celebrity.
Another interesting thing that I notice from this gatecrashing story is the initial reactions from the British and American press.
There were several headlines and comments in the British press, applauding the Salahis for staging the ‘gatecrash of the century’. “We need more pranksters like the White House gatecrashers,” said a writer in the United Kingdom daily, The Telegraph. The reception in the American has been more serious – raising worries about the serious breach of security and how an unauthorized guest can get so close to the president.
This difference could be due to the British fondness for pranks. Americans, on the other hand, carry the history of the assassination of two of the country’s great leaders, President John F Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King. It has been reported that Obama receives 30 death threats a day. Ed Rollins, CNN Senior Political Contributor and a leading Republican wrote a stern piece titled: “Prosecute the White House gate-crashers.” (http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/28/rollins.party.crashers.whitehouse/ )
Scandals and privacy also dogged Tiger Woods, one of the world’s most successful and popular golfers. It seems like his picture-perfect marriage wasn’t so perfect after all.
Amidst all the blaring news of his affairs with other women, Woods pleaded for privacy for his family. Sorry, Tiger, it doesn’t look like the media will heed your plea. Today, scandals sell. And even some of us who agree that Woods and his family should be given some privacy can be quite hypocritical. We still gobble up the scandalous details and the “breaking news” when we come across them.
The Woods episode also brings up the issue of athletes as “role models”. It’s fine that we consider them role models for their drive, passion and excellence in their sport. But should we also expect them to be role models free of marital complications or “transgressions” as Woods term them in his statement, when such episodes are a recurrent theme in the human experience?
Points to ponder, as these two stories continue to hog the news.