Celebrating celebrity

I was browsing Lee Hom’s microblog earlier on today. He had posted that he had gone filming for a new advertisement in utmost secrecy, but somehow his fans got wind of it and by the end of the day, the number of people who had turned up to 探班 was immense! He described the experience as a “high” comparable to the adrenaline rush he gets from his concert performances, and then posted a video of the crowd that mobbed him.

I could not help but feel a little sad for him.

Here is a man who has spent the last 16 years putting up with this kind of a lifestyle. He is under constant scrutiny. The fans out there who claim to love him undyingly are thirsty to know of his every movement. He is constantly photographed. The media probes unabashedly into his personal life- Where is he NOW? Who is he hanging out with? Who has he kissed? Who is his girlfriend? Is he gay? People gossip about him- how ungroomed he is away from the lights and cameras! Does he shave his underarms? What colour underwear did he wear to that awards show? Which restaurant did he dine in? Who are his friends and family? Can we stalk them too to get even more juicy gossip about this mega-super-star? Everyday, someone somewhere out there is trying to criticise and demean him, to catch him embarrassed, to compare him with some other celebrity…

Imagine living a life like his. You are travelling almost daily. Everyday, you spend hours flying in the air and travelling on the roads. Your life is in your suitcase. You wake up every morning not knowing where in the world you are. You have little control over where you want to be and who you want to see. Your schedule has already been decided upon by your manager and today you will film an advert, go to dance practice, sign autographs at a mall, then fly to another part of the world to perform at a concert…

The fans out there scream your name and proclaim their everlasting love for you. Where you go, they will follow. You cannot be seen walking around in public without some kind of a disguise as you will be mobbed. You go places, but hurry to the safety of your car as fan girls out there grab you and your clothes and attempt to kiss you. When you are in your vehicle, they bang on your car windows and it takes 10 minutes for the chauffeur to manoeuvre the car out of all the madness. And just when you think you are safely moving along on the roads away from the chaos, you look out of your rear windscreen and realise that the fans have packed themselves into mini-buses tailing you.

It must be nice to stand under bright lights basking in thunderous applause as a celebrity. It must be nice to have your fans sing along with you as you perform your latest song. It must be nice to have people telling you how amazing and inspiring you are as a performer. It must be nice to have fan girls screaming out their desire to marry you and have your babies! But at the end of the day, when the concert is over, when the lights are turned down, when the audience has dissipated and when you return to the posh but empty hotel suite, how cavernous a hollow emptiness must fill your heart! At the end of the day, you are lonely, all by yourself.

Being a celebrity brings with it many joys and sorrows. Negativity aside, being a celebrity means that one can indulge in activities that the common person could hardly ever imagine doing-  acting in a Hollywood movie, directing a blockbuster, meeting esteemed musical and theatrical talents from all around the world, travelling to different places on this earth, wining and dining at the poshest restaurants… More importantly, with celebrity comes power and influence. I am glad that Lee Hom has chosen to use his influence so positively. Through the years, he has encouraged people through his music to change the “man in the mirror.” Using his music, he reminds us of the importance of looking after mother earth. He sings of the ridiculousness of war and fighting, and encourages all peoples of the earth to treat each other as “自己人.” He is proud of his Chinese heritage, and attempts to 讓華人音樂發揚光大。 Lee Hom also sets an example to his fans by loving and caring for the poor hungry little African children. How much more amazing it would be if he could use his esteemed celebrity status to proclaim the salvation promised by Christ!

Being a celebrity must be one of the hardest jobs in the world. Rain or shine, healthy or sick, you are basically on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I applaud people like Lee Hom who have chosen to endure what would have definitely counted as suffering to me. And because he has done so, I am blessed with music that I love, music that I can turn on at the end of a difficult and stressful day at work to try and lift my spirits. For that, I am thankful.

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