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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Ownership of Celebrities

Tuesday was a sad day. When I got home, I was greeted with the unexpected news that Professor Mick Aston had died at the age of 66. So young!  Time Team followers will know Mick (as opposed to Mick the Dig), professor of Archeology, having taught at the University of Birmingham, University of Oxford and the University of Bristol. By all accounts, he was a warm, funny and caring man who had a great enthusiasm for archeology and making it accessible and understandable to everyone.  

For almost 20 years I watched him on the television.  He was almost like a friend. And there is the crunch; I did not actually know him. (more's the pity). The media, and particular social networking, has made many celebrities more accessible. Our culture has become one of voyeurism, lapping up every smallest detail about just about everyone. Knowing the smallest details, we now feel like they are our friends.

We 'friend' not only  actual friends but also acquaintances and people who have never even met! We 'friend' companies, causes and celebrities (real or via other fans - how can you tell sometimes). Having now created a perceived relationship and false intimacy with unknown entities, we then proceed to dole out advice as we would normally only do to our closest family and friends.

Along with the trend of internet bullying, where people feel that they have the right to coerce and torment anyone without care for the consequences, there is a trend on the internet for people to attempt to contol others. Whether this is by demanding change in company policies (sometimes good), attempting to control the course of television shows (that is what writers are paid for and what producers pay to do) and even vilifying individuals in the public eye. 

Even celebrities have taken to vilifying other celebrities. Recent articles on Nigella Lawson have scolding her for being quiet. Fortunately, most have supported her. Sadly, that is not often the case. Recently Matt Smith resigned his stint playing Doctor Who. Incredulously, some of the internet rant has been damning. It seems some 'fans' are too fanatical and have voiced their feelings of betrayal over him abandoning them. (!!?!)

Firstly, please remember the courtesy and ettiquette that your mum, dad or grandparents should  have taught you. Secondly, do you really own  that person. Does anybody? 
Matt Smith is an actor. His job is to act.   He felt his time had come to move on. I am sad to see him go but I understand that it is his life. He gets to make his own career choices. We have no right to try to force him to conform to our  (selfish) vision for his life. 

Nigella Lawson is a woman who appears to be a victim of domestic abuse. Unless you have been in her shoes, you cannot know how she feels nor demand how she should act, let alone threaten to boycott her shows and deny her of a living (!!?!)

As a population, we are becoming less polite, less tolerant and more selfish. How would you feel if someone treated you in the same way? Would you tolerate the pressure on you and your personal freedom? Many of us live in countries where we have personal freedom. We are lucky! So why do we insist on trying to infringe on the freedom of others?

My grandmother   used to say 'Treat others as you would like them to treat you.'  Think about that before you send your next twitter or FB post. Then think about it again.  Maybe we can learn to play nice again. 

Just... Maybe...

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