The advent of sound and in movies presented Hollywood with a problem. Many of its most famous actors had voices and accents unsuited to the talkies. The change in technology made them redundant.
In an effort to present uplifting news, TV stations are broadcasting messages of support from celebrities. I’m struck by how awkward their messages appear. Is this because celebrity is about aspiration rather than leadership? Like the great stars of the silent screen with bad voices that Hollywood never produced, the voices of many celebrities seem redundant. Sports millionaires for example. Sports are suspended and now the sports personalities are effectively wealth insulated rather than inconveniently health isolated. Not that you’d glean this from their messages presented as if they were just like you and me. They continue to broadcast like the celebrities they were only a month ago, competing for your attention like self-appointed social media influencers.
Do they represent aspiration? If so, perhaps it’s our failed achievements that they reflect to us. What of the easy life with predictable cycles of birth, education, work, marriage, kids, mortgage, retirement and death? Perhaps the sports super-stars represent an aspiration to a way out of poverty? How many times have you been on far-distant holidays and witnessed beach soccer played by kids wearing knock-off jerseys of the most successful teams. Emblazoned with the names of two or three of the globe’s most successful players. Asymmetric inspiration, billions of kids competing for two or three jobs or any scraps they can get. I recall the Londoner on Posh Pawn TV a few years ago, pawning cars and watches after injury terminated his career at 19: “I gave my life for this” he mourned.
We, the older fans who once had aspirations, have outsourced unpredictability to things like sports; our teams can’t always win yet we hold onto season tickets or more likely TV subscriptions just in case. A hangover from the excesses of the big game is as transient as the game itself. And on Monday, as usual, we drive the kids to school, go to work, gym over lunch, go shopping – oops, that was last month. Pandemically, we’re trapped at home. With the kids for whom celebrity matters more than the parents that feed, wash and educate them. Or so it seems. Would that the celebrities could broadcast for inspiration rather than empathy.
The beach kids? Perhaps a lack of TV will spare them some disappointment in those that they’d emulate.