BY ALI NAQVI –
Celebrities are a recent phenomenon. Around two hundred years ago, there were no newspapers, no radios, no TV channels and no social media. But there were heroes. People had always needed someone to look up to, someone they could attribute super human qualities. In ancient times warriors were glorified as heroes, rulers were worshiped as godlike creatures. But now times have changed. Today we have more celebrities than heroes. Actors, musicians, comedians, hosts, socialites and sportsmen have millions of fans across the globe.
When it comes to celebrities Pakistan has a very unique set of people to project. The celebrities are supposed to come out of the showbiz world but we produce celebrities from the most unlikely industry, ‘news and politics’. News anchors and politicians get more audience than showbiz stars. Politicians like Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Fawad Chaudhry, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Tallal Chaudhry and anchors like Shahzeb Khanzada, Kashif Abbasi and Javed Chaudary are the most visible faces on prime time television in every second household. The all-important question is what allowed these people to grab the attention of a large number of people.
Sheikh Rasheed could have been a great war-hero, had he lived in ancient Greece or Rome. He has the ability to attack his opponents so ferociously as if they deserve to die. He becomes the judge, the jury and the executioner. He also pretends to be someone who knows the future. As a fortune teller, he has predicted the fate of governments, Prime Ministers and Presidents without success. But still he is the most sought after personality in talk shows. Same is the case with most anchor persons who like to create panic and distress to sell their show.
After the stardom of Atif Aslam, we could not produce a single star in the music industry. Since Shaan, a true film star is nowhere to be found. There are only a handful of sportsmen and that too from cricket alone. Shahid Afridi was the last cricketer to be called a celebrity. There are no writers or poets of national repute. Why are we becoming stagnant as a nation? What destroyed the psyche of our people? How could a nation turn away from art, literature and entertainment?
The lack of freedom is the root cause of all things. Freedom to think, freedom to act, freedom of expression as well as political and social freedom could give life to our retarding minds. We need to open up to the world and allow others to express their thoughts and ideas without fear.
It’s a misconception that leaders bring change. Revolutions arise from the ideas of thinkers and philosophers. We don’t need people like Sheikh Rasheed to tell the nation what’s wrong with it. We require genuine thinkers to ignite the minds of our young generation. The first few steps in that direction would be to question authority, test ideas, doubt dogmas and above all verify every bit of information and knowledge before accepting it to be true.