This is tough business.
If you’re famous, literally every word, every sentence that comes out of your mouth can be jotted down, by anyone. Without the context it belongs in, this can be very dangerous. Or just really annoying. Press companies know this, they live by it. After all, you can sell loads of papers and magazines by even the assumption alone that someone who is regarded highly, has said something hurtfull or stupid.
Goodbye reputation etc. We see it happening all day long to Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Clinton, Beyonce Knowles, Kanye West etc. It’s also usually the kind of things that people don’t really care about, since the topics are not usually that interesting for people not in the same business.
Most celebrities have an agency or a spokesperson, who is properly trained to address the press in times of a scoop or whatever. They know how to avoid answering the actual question, or give a brief statement. Given that it prevents celebrities from having the pressure of coming up with a story -because it’s not just one journalist asking a question, it’s tons of ‘m- this is excellent. Just tell your agent what story you want to be circulating and tadaa: job done. Your reputation doesn’t get ruined by responding to one of the microphones being pushed up your nose like a free piercing up there.
Given the comments I see some of these celebrities make, also about other media, I do wonder: are they aware of the impact their words have, outside their mouths? With some I’m sure that they don’t. Even though for some there is ‘no such thing as bad press’, as press means attention and attention means prolonging of the celebrity status. For someone like Kim Kardashian this is important, given that she’s nothing but a pornstar, just like Katie Price. No taste or talent whatsoever.
But then there’s people like Christine Teigen, Jim Carrey, Kirstie Alley. People who actually try to be taken seriously. Well, at times. I do know they also make a point taking the piss out of someone. Anyway.
I make a sport of it not to trust anything that’s not printed more than once. If someone says something important, it will get printed in/on several news sources, as no big newspaper can afford to be without the scoops. Not just now, this was simply always the case.
I’ve seen several celebrities responding to certain subjects that were close to their hearts. Jim Carrey thought it’d be wise to tell people not to vaccinate their children (whilst he has NO medical background whatsoever, just an ex-girlfriend whose son is autistic and though this usually doesn’t come out until after a few years, a doctor found a way to blame the vaccine), Kirstie Alley backed Jim up there and so it HAD to be true, because two non-doctors who never finished school with that kind of background, said so.
And this is where I come to my point: some of these celebrities don’t really seem to have an idea how their words travel over the world.
Recently, in the Netherlands, we had a woman, Sylvana Simons, who decided she wanted to be part of a political party.
More people do so, not so special. But. She wants to fight racism and discrimination in our country. Finds herself the person to do this, because she feels she’s been a victim of this herself. She found herself sitting in a bar and not knowing what to do with herself. She then bumped into a Turkish Dutchman, part of a very right political party, who asked her:
‘Why don’t you join out political party?’
This woman gained fame by presenting video’s on a music channel.
Of course, one can start out in this way and appear to have far more going for them. Then again, not so much in her case. Not to me anyway. I’ve seen her partly stunned and speechless on several occasions, because others were better prepared than she was. On television. For a bookclub, for instance, or opinion panels. A bit awkward, really. Again, this can happen.
Her point in politics is to make EVERYONE equally important.To everyone. But. She has, since then, only spoken out when a certain race was mistreated. While this happens more often. And, indeed, to everyone.
Then I read how she had taken place on a political show, since she was going to be part of a political party. She was asked to bring along items that bothered her, more or less. Things she thought ‘went just too far’. When I read what she had objected to, I got scared. Because at least one item was made by a cartoonist. A properly settled one at it. His work has been in De Parool for years. A man who knows when to stop, as far as I’m concerned.
Sylvana Simons wants the ‘freedom of opinion’ to be retained. Because she feels some things are just ‘too hurtfull’, and done so on purpose.
I’m not here to deny anyones feelings, first and for all. Everyone has their own feeling. You can’t tell a person they can’t feel a certain thing. You’re not inside their body or their mind. It’s not your call, period. The other person feels what s/he feels and that’s simply it.
I understood she said a cartoon of Joep Bertrams had ‘gone too far’. Because she had been depicted as a lapdog of Erdogan, licking his face. I guess ‘being Erdogan’s bitch’ is taking it too far in text, but that’s what it had come down to. Sylvana Simons was highly offended by that. If it’s up to her, persons like Bertrams don’t get the freedom to put just anything they want into print.
To be honest, that’s exactly what got into print. Erdogan doesn’t want people to say or express how they feel, nor does Ms Simons. In both their cases, it’s because they feel like they’ve been hurt personally.
I think: when you go into politics, that’s what you become: a public figure. You become the subject of cartoonists. If you suggest something that is outrageous, there will be “making fun of you”. That’s pretty much their job!?
Maybe I’m just a different person. When someone has the ability to make me feel extremely angry, happy or sad, I start thinking why that is. I once had enough of the world, was angry and sad with so many people. I fell out with most of them too. Got so incredibly sad and angry, didn’t understand why everyone was deserting me and so on. Then even my best friend told me ‘I’m sorry, I just don’t find you pleasant anymore, I am done with you’, and it finally hit me: it’s ME that has a problem, not the world around me.
Everyone has their own moment and a different person to give them the slap in the face they need. It mght be more subtle or more heavy for others, but if it’s meant to be, the message will get across. Apparently Joep Bertrams didn’t do it for Sylvana Simons, as she chose to be offended and not to understand what it meant. What it showed.
Cartoonists have a great purpose in our lives. They make that we can put in a perspective what’s happening in the world around us, they make fun of politicians, reflect on the news in general, make fun of it. That’s what they’re (severely under)paid for. And people love it. We live by it, as it makes life just a wee bit more bearable. But for the people cartoonists make fun of, it can be like a reflecting mirror they don’t like the look of. You could ask: ‘should that be the burden of the cartoonist, or the one who is sending out that message?’ And I think we can all agree here, that you shouldn’t blame the messenger, but the one who got the message out in the first place.
That’s not the cartoonist. The one making the cartoon just got inspired by what someone said. Someone who might be unaware of the message they send out. In that case you need training. What do things mean? What does it mean to be a politician? What is it that you say that tickles others to respond to you agressively or politely?
When a settled cartoonist depicts you in a way you don’t like, I would think: wait, is this how my message is getting across? I would be angry at myself. I would think: oh wow, that’s SO not how I meant that?!
I would think about the consequences of my words. I’d think that maybe I’d chosen the wrong words. That I’d need to rephrase, to analyse the probem. I’d want to get my message across properly.
I’d hire a spokesman.
And I’d contact the cartoonist personally. Thanking him for opening my eyes.