The Cost of Fame – South2North on Aljazeera
I first met Redi Thlabi last year when she was MC at the No Student Hungry (NSH) Fundraiser in Bloemfontein. NSH is an incredible programme at the University of the Free State, funding meals for bursary students who would otherwise go hungry. I was the guest speaker for the function and Redi and I have been in periodic contact via Twitter ever since! For those of you who don’t know her, she does the morning (9h00-12h00) show on Cape Talk/702 Talk Radio.
When Redi asked me to be a guest on her new talk show on Aljazeera, South2North, I could not say no! She needed a Psychologist to comment on the effects of fame and was hoping for someone who also had an inspiring story to share. The filming took place in Braamfontein, on a beautiful set on the 11th floor with panoramic views of Johannesburg.
You can watch the interview online
The main focus of the show was on Vicus Visser, a child star found on You Tube in 2010, who was leaving an impoverished background to perform in the USA. Taking into account the many negative consequences of fame (Michael Jackson and Brittany Spears were two examples), we discussed the importance for Vicus and his brother, Vincent, to remain grounded. I think one of the most challenging aspects of being famous in a modern world is the impact of social media. The public are bold to be critical and even abusive on social media, hiding behind a computer screen or profile name. Years ago, a performer might see an unflattering photo and story in a newspaper or magazine, but now they are faced with a barrage on their Twitter feeds or Facebook pages. The Oscar Pistorius case is certainly an apt example in current news.
With so many hopefuls, particularly on reality talent shows, we need to consider the psychological consequences of fame and how resilient are they to cope with the spotlight. Do not misunderstand me, becoming a celebrity has many positive aspects – the excitement, attention and wealth. I believe preparation, having positive role models and remaining grounded are key protective factors.