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     Volume 11 |Issue 46| November 23, 2012 |


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The Importance of Being Important

Aasha Mehreen Amin

People who have no ambition in life besides being able to live through another day will not understand the trials and tribulations of individuals whose raison d'être lies in public approbation. They cannot know the stinging wounds of being slighted by 'lesser mortals', the mortifying scabs left by scathing criticisms of their craft or the sheer agony of strutting around in a public place without a single gesture from anyone, of being recognised.

It's true, we all crave attention, except the diehard recluses who abhor any kind of human contact. As children we will do anything to get noticed especially by those in power, namely parents - even stick a finger into the electric socket if need be. As adults we go to similar lengths to be noted.

Among the regular brood of attention seekers, however, are the incorrigible celebrity wannabes.

Generally speaking there is often an inversely proportional relationship between the level of talent and the desire for celebrity status. In plain words the less the talent the more the obsession with publicity. Those who have the real thing are actually quite wary of the frenzied attention and would rather be left alone to do some grocery shopping instead of being mobbed by crazed fans and psychotic paparazzi.

One of the most sought after positions of a wannabe celebrity is to be recognised as being a member of the intelligentsia of the society, (unless you are under fascist occupation, in which case you just want to be just a bum on the streets). You may chant 'psuedo intellectual' all you want but these people are immune to insult and are happy as long as they can brush shoulders with the high and mighty. Many a wannabe writer therefore, will be seen loitering at literary festivals, running after the well known with a copy of Derrida's Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles in hand, making sure they are seen with the right people at the right place. In these days of celebrating mediocrity, it is hard to distinguish between the real McCoy and the Decoy. At least as far as appearances go. They will wear the right attire - not too loud, not too drab either and sport the adequate amount of arrogance and attitude to convince anyone that they indeed are very important.

In a situation when it is of utmost importance to ingratiate themselves to those who matter - the celebrity actor, the renowned novelist, the Nobel Laureate, other ordinary people they once knew, who do not have much to do in the grand scheme of becoming famous, have to be ignored. It's just collateral damage for the greater good.

Wannabe celebrities rely on two things - connections and tenacity. They will exploit every connection they have if it comes to their use. Hence the phone calls to the newspaper editor from a minister to please publish an article written by a granddaughter in the Children's Page. Those who can pester and harass editors and publishers to print their writing no matter how sub standard it is are especially talented in the art of self-promotion. They will somehow get their article published, sometimes by plagiarising entire paragraphs from websites, sometimes through the rewriting by the editors they have harassed. The next step is to let the world know that they have been published, it will be a part of their resumes, they will get cushy jobs and may even win a few awards.

For those who are a bit more sophisticated, in the sense they actually know the language they are writing in will have other tricks up their sleeves to get attention. Semi-pornographic writing is always a crowd puller and often this seems to bring about the biggest shock and awe effect. Others manage to get fatwas from religious fanatics so that they can get quick visas to foreign countries where no matter what they write or say will be seen as the precious words of the persecuted and downtrodden and therefore all the more applauded.

All said and done one must appreciate the effort and energy these wannabe celebrities expend just for a little bit of attention and so that they can use expressions like raison d'être. It just makes them feel important.

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