WHYWELOVE TO CATCH A FALLING STAR
A carnival atmosphere in the wake of a showbiz celebrity’s hanky-panky coming to light speaks volumes about the popular culture of the day and, of course, the slowness of serious news.
This is so anticlimactic. Why isn’t the first wife angry? Obviously she had long known about her husband’s infidelity and they had reached some kind of reconciliation. That left moral purists in an awkward position. Who are they going to champion now that the victim has essentially sided with the sinner. The focus has shifted to the girlfriend who has not come out with a public stance yet. Is she now the victim due to his prompt repentance? (She had posted a cryptic sentence onMarch 23, saying “One should pursue but not force it because what one wins by pursuing is priceless while what one wins by forcing it is cheap.”)
Wen is rumored to be the highest-paid television actor in China, commanding three times the salary of the Korean heartthrob who has taken China by storm. He may not possess the best looks or the best acting chops, but he has built a solid career on a combination of good roles and a matching persona of a boy-man and the boy next door that is more endearing than enchanting. In other words, he is someone who can be trusted as a husband and father or a kid growing into one.
Truth is, we don’t know anything about what happened between the three of them. We just project from the roles they play and the public appearances they make that they are the kind of people we take them to be. That is at once the benefit and the disadvantage of an acting career. Their facade could be exactly who they are, or the opposite of who they are, or anything in between.
All three of these people are adults and their private lives have nothing to do with the public. The fact thatWen has been acting as a kind of role model is partly the fault of the public or his fan base. Acting is not built on morality; it is one’s ability to make believe he or she can be someone else once the need arises. It is simply foolish to equate a role with the one who temporarily embodies it.
That said, actors who rely on the trick of deliberately blurring the line between actor and role should abide by his own rule. If you want the public to believe you’re a paragon of morality, then stick to it or suffer the consequences.
In a cultural context, the increasing failures of fairy tale marriages in the entertainment industry indeed have an impact on social attitudes and values. Whenever a celebrity union unravels, those who perceived it as the embodiment of conjugal perfection are dealt a blow, gradually morphing them into cynics. The oft-repeated catchphrase, “I won’t believe in love anymore”, is a self-deprecating wisecrack that has truth at its core.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that some will follow the lead of the erstwhile role models even in their foibles simply because they have revealed a vulnerability that makes them more human. There is also a palpable undertone of schadenfreude at the implosion of marquee names. If those perching atop pedestals cannot resist temptation and hold a marriage together, shouldn’t we feel better about ourselves and our pedestrian lives?
Either way, stars in the entertainment galaxy are used as benchmarks against which the huddling masses can measure their own existence and its worth. It has all the trappings of a modern religion with the only exception that these are mere mortals whose unpredictability can interfere with our projection and faith. That’s why a real saint had better be dead. For one thing, dead people do not commit adultery and can be molded into whatever shape the manipulator wants. Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.