Brangelina Split: Perils Of Celebrity Worship
Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from husband Brad Pitt after two years of marriage, and more than a decade together. Sutanu Guru wonders if "adopted" children are safe from headline hunting celebrities from the west
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That astonishing double standards permeate the "developed" and "civilized" western world should not come as a surprise to anyone. That, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, many third world residents and media outlets persist in the practice of celebrity worship-particularly of western stars- should be a matter of shock to thinking humans. The latest headlines related to the end of the marriage between Hollywood superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are yet another manifestation of this. They have a brood of adopted children from poor countries and it seems Angelina has asked for their custody. Now, custody battles and divorce proceedings are not something new; they have become common even in "third world" countries like India (Remember the one between film star Karishma Kapoor and industrialist Sunjay Kapoor?).
But this author would like to cite just a few examples of how celebrity worship often leads us to ignore the possible exploitation of children by stars. Not all stars can be accused of abusing children. But the fact that some have actually done so should lead everyone to be careful before handing over poor children.
The late Michael Jackson was one the biggest stars of the 20th century. His famous songs resonate even now across the world. One of his songs-Black Or White- catapulted him from being just a rock star to sainthood for the manner in which the lyrics and the accompanying visuals in the video talked wistfully about a world without racial divides. Along the way, he also became famous for organizing parties for poor children in his mansion called Neverland. It was only much later that whispers about his "obsession" with children became too loud to ignore. Some families even filed cases against Jackson for sexual abuse of children. But tons of money and a well oiled PR machinery ensured that Jackson evaded punishment.
Another equally shocking case is that of the legendary Woody Allen. He is the thinking woman's director and actor whose movies are often considered to be masterpieces even if many ordinary people never understood them. He is a god like figure in the limited pantheon of Hollywood stars who are actually intellectuals. He was also celebrated, along with his former wife Mia Farrow for adopting poor children from third world countries. This made them even more admired and celebrated. But all hell broke loose when the wife Mia Farrow accused Allen of sexually abusing their adopted daughter who is of East Asian descent. Woody Allen had no qualms in admitting that he had fallen in love with his underage daughter. They even got married eventually. Allen was never punished despite draconian American laws pertaining to child abuse.
There is a lesson in all this for “third world" media. Too often, we swallow the "narrative" that is spun by western media outlets. One such narrative has been that Russian and Chinese athletes take performance enhancing drugs. So often has this story been told and sold that we believe that almost all athletes from Russia and China are cheats. Some do, no doubt. But cases of drug abuse by American sports stars are no less rampant, if one can use that term. A group of Russian hackers recently revealed how big American sports stars were "officially" allowed to get away by "doing drugs". Of course, media outlets in the west treat such cases are rare and never build a narrative around it.
So all the best to Angelina Jolie as she travels the world as an ambassador of peace, justice, racial equality, gender rights and what not. But do check and be careful before allowing her to adopt even more poor children from third world countries.