As children we are all often asked certain questions, one of them in particular being, “Who is our idol?” The first few names that would crop up in our minds would either be that of our parents or some film superstar. One wouldn’t be amazed to hear names like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan or even Spiderman as a five-year-old’s answer to this very question. The extent to which celebrities have an influence over people from all walks of life is not news. In fact, the media and celebrities could act as a bridge between the many different and distinct sections of the society, since their influence is umbrella-like and knows no boundaries.
With the advent of social media it has now become possible for people to gain easy access to the personal and public lives of celebrities, giving fans an opportunity to get day-to-day updates about their beloved superstars. Fans today have placed these celebrities on a pedestal unlike any other, often treating them as demigods. Such fans often make attempts to replicate and imitate all that these celebrities do in their real or reel lives. From lifestyle to miscellaneous indulgences, everything is subject to imitation, irrespective of the malice involved in it.
Everyone is duty-bound to act responsibly, but celebrities definitely carry a greater responsibility of conduct since their actions impact the lives of millions. Their impact is not just limited to either the lower or the upper sections of the society or to rural or urban areas. People living in mansions and slums alike watch the same movies, follow the same celebrities and digest the same information that the news provides. Instances of celebrities being involved in crimes come across as them endorsing those crimes, whether it be drugs, petty fist fights or even extreme cases like terrorism. A large section of the public fail to use their discretion and imitate these acts, justifying them by associating the acts with their beloved celebrities.
Instances of law and order being compromised for celebrities are a common occurrence when celebrities use their influence to get away with crimes they are accused of, thereby questioning the legal system of our nation and indirectly sanctioning such acts for the masses. In many cases, one has noticed how ardent followers of celebrities in India take to the streets to defend the accused superstars on the grounds that they have showcased humanitarianism and have contributed positively to society. For the youth, doing drugs or eve teasing would be considered “cool” because they see their idols doing that on screen or being accused of crimes like drug dealing in their personal lives. A large majority of the people are blinded by the roles played by celebrity protagonists, a dutiful cop or an non-corrupt official to cite a few , and fans find it downright unacceptable at times to believe any kind of misconduct or misbehaviour on the end of celebrities whom they associate with law protectors and righteous men.
At the same time, celebrities are acting as messiahs to spread the message of various social causes like health issues, poor refugee conditions in Syria, or the need for overcoming various social stigmas related to women and the disadvantaged sections of society. By endorsing such social initiatives, they influence their fans to believe in the same and bring about a massive change in the social setting of the country, thereby helping the society evolve to another stage.
For better or for worse, the influence of celebrity behaviour on the general public cannot be ignored. Whether these stars use their fame to spread goodwill, or to set a bad example is an onus that rests upon them to act on. Fans should on the other hand use their power of discretion to analyse better, thereby make better decisions for themselves and for the society as a whole.
Picture Credits: factordaily.com