Polytheism – worship of multiple gods.
When the people of Macondo1 saw an actor die in a movie and reappear as a completely different character in another movie, they decided they, “…would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats.”
But, we are not some primitive people from the fictitious Macondo, we are modern people who live on the, ‘Information Highway’. We know intellectually, that movies are commercial ventures made possible by modern technology, built by a large crew of invisible people with the actors being the only visible part of that venture. We know in our minds that actors are people, who portray scripted characters, as navigated by the director.
These actors are nothing like the fantastic characters they play on the screen. They are ordinary people, just like you and me. Yet, somehow seeing them up-close, smiling at us – not straight at the camera, but at me, the movie-goer – inviting us into their homes, into their lives, into marvelous worlds of fantasy and magic, sharing with us their travails and their triumphs, somehow tug at our heart-strings, making us believe in the impossible, just like when we were little children wishing for magic.
These imaginary characters have such an impact on us, that somewhere along the way without awareness, we transfer the affections for the character to the actor, blurring the lines between entertainment and reality.
We adore these creatures so much for their physical beauty and prowess on the silver-screen, that we call them stars, because they are after all celestial beings. Like mythological gods, these earthly gods have an entourage which includes a public-relations team that help perpetuate the artifice, through meticulously, calibrated propaganda. They impress upon the public that the road to happiness is through money and fame, which can only be attained by fulfilling their definition of beauty and aesthetics.
We follow these magical creatures religiously, through the numerous glossy scriptures, published regularly and placed conveniently by the check-out counters, at the local groceries and general stores, just to satisfy our curiosity about every little detail of their personal lives – their extravagances, indulgences and their fallibility.
They tell us what to wear, how to look, how to live our lives. They do this by appearing on highly paid advertisements and showing us the product, they claim is the secret to their good-looks. ‘Oh, look at that heavily air-brushed, unblemished skin. I want to have a skin as perfect as that. What cream is she using? I should buy that.’
‘Look at the car, that actor’s driving. He looks cool in that. I want to buy that.’
In today’s well connected world of the internet, anyone can become an instant celebrity by showing off their singing or dancing talents.
No talent? No worries. If you can shock the public enough, by outdoing the latest act of shameless depravity, you get a show on television.
Today, the most extensively cultivated celebrity is running to be the President of United States of America at the head of the Republican ticket. The man who bankrupted a casino and lost nearly a billion dollars, runs on the claim of being a successful businessman who can fix the economy. And we are willing to believe him too, despite the fact that many of us have not recovered from the 2008 financial collapse, which was largely caused by reckless, greedy people like him.
Every time he says something that make us cringe in shame, we hope against hope, that he would reform himself, because after all, it is easy to forgive the illusory god, rather than a real human being.
1 Macondo: A fictional town from the novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, by Gabriel García Márquez