When a star loses its luster
Updated: 2012-12-09 09:16
By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)
In the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake, he wrote a blog that "implored" survivors to stop fighting for their rights lest their voices be used by hostile forces against China. This appeal essentially sealed his reputation as an apologist who thinks too big and ignores the sufferings of the masses, something not really echoed in his writings but fit for his pompous style.
Han Han, the rebellious and continuous headline-maker who launched his career by mocking people like Yu Qiuyu, suffered a setback of his own earlier this year when the authenticity of his writings was questioned.
The accuser did not say Han was not a good writer, but that his father wrote for him. The evidence produced was far-fetched at best, but many people jumped on it. People were just eager to topple the idols they had earlier placed on the pedestal.
A figure of authority in this day and age is quite different from one of the previous era when the media or the government could single-handedly present one as cast in iron. Many of the current personalities were self-made in the sense they used their individuality and knowledge to carve out a public persona, often in contrast with similar figures of a previous age.
But it is not easy to keep abreast of the evolving trends. Moreover, a persona has to be relatively stable to gather a following, which runs counter to the herd mentality of public opinions.
These celebrities rode the wave to the top, but intentionally or not they sometimes speak their minds that do not agree with the public. Such a figure can grow apart from the people because he or she is no longer part of the people, or the person may insist on the truth as he or she sees it instead of pandering to shifting sentiments. It could be difficult to distinguish between arrogance and principle.
One thing is clear: Celebrities should not feel obligated to offer a comment on topics they do not know enough about. When a dinner-table chitchat could be tweeted to millions of audience, that means keeping your mouth shut even if you are tempted.
A commentator who does not conduct basic research before sounding off on a topic is simply irresponsible. Unfortunately, the current trend is to offer up sound bites cute enough to be endlessly re-tweeted, not rational enough to be based on facts and nuances.
A recent poll by Southern Metropolis News and Tencent revealed a top 12 list of celebrities one wants to drive off stage. Both Yu Dan and Yu Qiuyu made the list.
Some of the choices are dubious, though. All of them were once embraced by the public. They still have their fan base, which could have diminished significantly since their heyday.
The lesson they could have learned: The public is fickle and can desert you even before you have the time to explain what really happened.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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