Opinion Editorial

The 4 Guys

Bill Duke, Editor

There is a commercial airing on television these days that depicts four regular guys putting up posters of themselves all over town in an attempt to garner some celebrity status.

Their humble campaign works when they are awarded VIP access into a nightclub and are approached by a smattering of attractive women who recognize them from their posters.

That the ad is for spiced rum is inconsequential to me; what I find fascinating is the statement the ad makes about what, exactly, constitutes celebrity in our modern world.

To suggest that a bit of clever self promotion is all that stands between ordinary Joe and Jane and a life of preferential treatment isn't so farfetched.

In a world where Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are household names, it is obvious that talent is no longer a prerequisite for fame.

The tide has been shifting for some time, and like most things in life, the Internet has been a driving factor.

Given that anyone with a laptop and a modem can publish their own videos, music, blog entries, reviews, photos and jokes, it was only a matter of time before the old-fashioned star factory was rendered obsolete.

No longer does one need to rely on a casting agent or music producer to get exposure. While that's probably a good thing, as is any circumstance that opens more doors for more people, the downfall is that society has lost the traditional filters that kept the talentless dregs from polluting our culture.

That someone shouts over and over "I'm important, look at me!" doesn't mean they deserve attention. Still, we can't help but look when we are bombarded with such a message.

Consider NBA star Chris Bosh.

Having played his entire career with the Toronto Raptors, Bosh was considered a talented player who flew under the radar due to Toronto's reputation south of the border as a basketball backwater.

That all changed when Bosh made a video in which he campaigned for his selection to the NBA All-Star game. Amateurish at best, the video starred Bosh as a used car salesman with a Texas accent. It became a youtube sensation and Bosh was easily voted a starter on the Eastern all-star squad.

That little gimmick led to a guest appearance on The Tonight Show and a myriad of commercials in which Bosh shows off his "wit."

The all-star video wasn't especially funny, and neither was Bosh's Tonight Show skit. His basketball acumen has remained largely unchanged since the video, yet he is now considered a superstar by the same people who dismissed him prior to his debut as a short filmmaker/comedian.

It's altogether likely that Bosh's ploy will earn him millions of dollars in a new free agent contract next summer that he would never have been offered if he were a lesser known player.

I give Bosh credit for being a self-starter and realizing a way to influence his popularity through non-traditional means, yet I am saddened by the fact that a dumb video drastically altered the starting roster of a major pro sport's all-star game.

Perhaps I should just stop being frustrated by all these self made celebrities and adhere to the old credo, "If you can't beat'em, join'em."

I might just put up some posters around Strathmore that depict myself wearing a jean jacket and aviator sunglasses. Maybe I should be pointing and winking with a volcano scene for a background. Or maybe it should look like I'm on the moon.

That would be cool. It might even land me a television pilot or a record deal.

For anyone who hasn't heard me sing, let me be unequivocally clear in saying that scenario would only cause further harm to a nation's already fragile culture.

Bill Duke


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