The lockdown-inspired truths, the profound realizations, the surge of humaneness… all of that will become history for celebrities.
The ongoing lockdown has made us aware of two categories of people that occupy the celebrity space. The media, both electronic and print, has been faithfully reporting on their activities. For the layperson, the reportage has provided some sort of relief, even amusement, The first type is of those who have made a virtue out of necessity, and the second is of the ones that have overnight realized the strength of family bonds.
Social media is replete with photographs and videos of the first kind. Celebrities, which include personalities from the entertainment industry, are seen mopping the floor of their residences, cleaning wardrobes, watering plants, cooking food, washing utensils, and engaging in such other activities. Some are learning to cook Parsi food; other Punjabi dishes. A few have developed overnight respect for the environment.
If celebrities’ work had come in the way, it is because they allowed that to happen; there was nothing inescapable about it.
They have been making a big deal out of these tasks. The fact is, they have had no options. Housemaids have not been coming and so they are compelled to do jobs that they had despised earlier or had no time to do them. They are doing no favor to anyone, but even here the publicity-driven celebrities are seeking gains. They are seen as smiling and laughing and generally enjoying the chores. Are they, really?
Perhaps the message they are wanting to send across is the following: “Look, if a celebrity like me can indulge in these ‘menial’ tasks, so can the rest of the lesser mortals.” They forget to realize that, across the country, millions of Indians, who have had no means to engage household help, have been for years doing their chores themselves, even without the lockdown.
Some of these celebrities had gone to their lavish farmhouses when the lockdown happened, and so they have had to put there. They used to visit these farmhouses even before the lockdown, but one does not remember them posting images or videos of their activities then. Of course, some of them indulged in acts there, which they did not care to publicize. But now they are seen growing vegetables, tending to plants, soiling their hands, perspiring, and generally having a good time. They unabashedly display their ‘love for nature’, whereas in normal times the love for lucre had dominated their every facet of life.
The second category comprises celebrities who have been posting images and videos of a ‘happy joint family’. These people have suddenly discovered the pleasure of being close to their family members, especially parents. Celebrity after celebrity has been quoted as saying that he or she had missed being in physical proximity to their parents and other loved ones all these years because their job demanded so much of their time. The latter may be true, but those who wish to bond with their family could have always found time to do so. If their work had come in the way, it is because they allowed that to happen; there was nothing inescapable about it.
Celebrities will return to a state of a constant rush— in fact, with renewed zeal to make up for the lost time and lost income.
Several of these celebrities had the financial security to cut down on their work and devote more attention to their parents and other family members, but they willfully chose to prioritize their earnings. They are not migrant workers who are forced to live hundreds of kilometers away from their home and family in order to make both ends meet. The migrants could barely save enough to make a trip once a year back to their home. But distance had never been an issue with the well-off. At the drop of a hat, they could fly or take the road or the train to visit their parents in far-off places. How many of them did that in normal times?
Similarly, celebrities have also overnight found pleasure in tending to their small children. For years, the kids had been left to the mercy of nannies, while the parents rushed about with their work, having just enough time to deliver flying kisses to their children before leaving home, and gazing lovingly at them on return since in most cases they came back late in the evening or night when the children were already asleep. Criticize the celebrities and they will respond with the argument that they had been ‘sacrificing’ for the sake of a prosperous future of their children. While making provisions for the future is important, a child values the immediate love and affection it gets from its parents — small gestures such as playing with it, taking it out for an ice-cream, or a stroll. The celebrities until now never seemed to have enough quality or quantity time for their children.
One can be certain that after the lockdown is lifted and the curbs that have forced these celebrities to stay at the home, end, things will be back to ‘normal’ for them. They will return to a state of a constant rush— in fact, with renewed zeal to make up for the lost time and lost income. Maids will spruce up their homes, nannies will tend to their children, parents will be left alone, farmhouses will become getaways, and cooking and dish-washing will not figure high on their list of doing. The lockdown-inspired truths, the profound realizations, the surge of humaneness… all of that will become history. And the celebrities will find other ways of publicity. Until then, let us enjoy our daily dose of news about which actor cooked what dish; which star grew what plant in his farmhouse, and which celebrity played cricket with his wife in the lawns of his sprawling home.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.