Another Sunday (20/12/2009), and in WE THE PEOPLE slot at 8 PM in NDTV was the discussion WHETHER THE PRIVATE LIVES OF CELEBRITIES SHOULD BE KEPT PRIVATE OR ALLOWED TO BE OPEN FOR PUBLIC SCRUTINY?
A topic that mostly revolved around Tiger Woods and his escapades. Barkha Dutt, as usual, butted in incessantly and drove the discussion in the lines that she had pre-decided to go! This is nothing new, and looking for Barkha to realize and reform seems a vain expectation.
It was a great opportunity for DISTINGUISHING the differences between a celebrity who was leveraging his skills off his domain and a celebrity who was creating an AURA beyond the domain. Let me give an illustration: NIKE is a sports equipment manufacturer and is in the same domain as Tiger Woods is, as a golfer. NIKE could still contend that despite his unseemly escapades, nothing takes away the fact that he is the greatest golfer mankind has seen so far (14 majors!). But when GILLETTE, which is known for its shaving products, takes him as a brand ambassador, Tiger Woods has left his domain of specialty and has veered into a territory where he is leveraging his popularity to promote and sell shaving products.
Much worse is when Tiger Woods start endorsing a Management Company like ACCENTURE. When William T.Green, Chairman & CEO of ACCENTURE speaks of the “accessibility, affordability and accountability of Education in India, and his prescription of making India a Global Education Hub,” there is a jarring note. What did Tiger Woods have to do with a global consulting firm, that could not manage the “affairs” of it best known face (by hindsight)!! Therefore the point i want to make is that TIGER WOODS chose to use his visibility to promote brands beyond his COMPETENCE and thereby made himself vulnerable to PUBLIC SCRUTINY.
When one of the participating members, Dhabolkar was about to bring in the distinction, OUTLOOK Mehta butted in and the point was never again touched upon. Once i make a statement as an ANONYMOUS person, i am not deemed to be an EXPERT and the viewer is going to count my OPINION as another one in the ocean of OPINIONS. But when a highly visible celebrity makes a statement, he becomes a PUBLIC figure opening himself to scrutiny, by having stated an OPINION on an unrelated area and pledging his credibility.
In the case of Tiger Woods, he had made a statement that his “family” comes first. Which had subliminally added to his “image” substantially. Now that the whole world knows that he had an “EXTENDED FAMILY” consisting of bar-maids and whores, the CONTAMINATION of that FAMILY statement is merely boomeranging. It is that the viewer is HOLDING TIGER WOODS at his WORD.
So to suggest that a public figure’s life should be beyond the pale of public scrutiny, is LIKE demanding an unfair bargain: BUY THE PRODUCTS I ENDORSE. BUT IF I AM CAUGHT TO BE OTHER THAN WHAT I HELD OUT TO BE, THEN I SHALL USE MY PRIVILEGE OF PRIVACY AND YOU IDIOTS SHALL HAVE NO RIGHT TO SCRUTINIZE MY PRIVATE LIFE!!
But our desi angrezi steam roller Barkha would have none of the point that was about to be said. She as a moderator of the discussion was pathetic. Her questions were either leading or stifling!!