I am not a voracious reader or anything, but I do read book once in a while. Off late I have been visiting a few book stores in Bangalore, now that I have a lot of time at my hand. While I don’t read much, I do want to score brownie points in my friends’ good books. It works this way. Every time anyone asks me about having read any book, I casually reply, “it’s by this guy right, Vikram Seth? I haven’t read it, but I want to.” It’s like saying, “I know about it.” It is important to show off at occasions. All of us at some point of time do like to associate ourselves with someone famous or learned, and be in sync with their conversation. We all want to be famous, some of us do get that fifteen minutes of fame. At other times, we strive to move with famous people. For instance, at any wedding in South India, people crowd around the bride and the groom to be at the helm of the proceeding. It is not that they are needed or something, it is just the hurried running and gulping of headache relief pills that some folks seem to enjoy. And listless old men, who what don’t want to miss out on the action, too chip in with advise on performing rituals.
Ever wondered why once in every 6 months, a while after she died, new characters kept emerging from nowhere saying they slept with Princess Diana? It’s the ‘I-want-to-be-with-famous’ syndrome. No one can confirm or deny it, they might as well make something out of it. It could have happened. Diana’s sure gone. She can’t speak.
Do you remember high school cricket? Good old days where only one of us got to be “the best” player, and rest of us cling to him in all games and always wanna be in his team. Yup, its the same syndrome at play. It should be noted that such a system promotes the hero-sidekick relationship among the students. I have observed such relationships on couple of occasions outside the television. Its fun to ‘watch’ such things in life actually :). With new rules (link) in schools operating, with boys and girls no being allowed touch the people of opposite sex, I see no reason why the hero-sidekick culture won’t present itself as a norm. After all, it is the duty of the hero to show the right way. This reality also mimics television. Among dozen others, Batman and Robin stand out clearly as a leading Hero-Sidekick example. As it turns out, both are … well … gay. Arguably at least. Hence, the likelihood of fears among conservatives that it promotes homosexuality is not that unfounded (link).
Also, I believe, there is a difference in you being someone’s sidekick and you idolizing someone. In the former case, you blindly follow what the other person does. In the latter, though you agree with the principle at a bigger scale, you change the rules to your needs. If you are thinking about most common example for hero-sidekick relation, you need not look further. The most famous entity is God himself. He (Capital H) is the Hero, fundamentalists are sidekicks. Associations with ‘famous’ God is the “thing” in claim to fame! Like George Carlin says, “up on the mountain, when no one was around, God gave us Ten Commandments.” (link), every religion sets out rules formulated thousands of years ago. The sidekicks follow them blindly. Brilliant, isn’t it? In fact, people said to be closest to God, that is priests, are in the highest strata of the society. This hero-sidekick relationship is not exclusive in most of the cases. In a certain case, there are hundreds of Gods and equal number of sidekicks, there is no problem of ‘promiscuity’ there.
God is famous. We all know that. Lets come down to earth. Did you know that Scientology boasts of 10 million memberships by the end of 2006. It surprising that a religion (?) arising out of a science fiction novel can attract so many people? With its foundations lying in alien invasions, volcanic eruption, hydrogen bombs and soul clusterization (link), how the hell did people even find it acceptable? With John Travolta and Tom Cruise following it, isn’t it hardly surprising?
Comments on blasphemy, religion and related issues won’t be answered. The questions, if need be, can be directed to Richard Dawkins. Yes, he is very famous, and I am with famous.