Hero Worship vs Gratitude: The Knighthood of Tom Baker
by Xerxes Praetorius Horde
One thing that has always made me extremely uncomfortable, and for years I didn’t understand why, was the unconditional “deification” of celebrities.
It made me feel very awkward when someone would start talking about another human being, usually someone they had never met, as if they were an object worthy of worship… another person so accomplished or talented that it should make us all feel inadequate. Their photos are all over magazines, their smiling faces are the subject of charming inspirational memes, their adoring public hangs on every word they post on Twitter or Facebook, and somehow we believe that because they are exceptionally good at something (even if that something is just looking good…) that they are somehow wiser and better people than the rest of us.
I don’t feel the same way about public figures because I know I can’t… on an intellectual level I know that there are thousands upon thousands of wise and accomplished people on this earth and the tiny percentage we see in the public limelight are not necessarily worthy of our attentions and admiration.
And yet I still have my own list of musicians, artists, and public figures that I love dearly despite my iconoclastic beliefs . I will rave about them, I will make my friends listen to their recordings, I will sing their praises as being an influence on my life and work…
…so does this make me some sort of sociopathic hypocrite?
I did not want to be one of the herd, one of the sheep. I struggled with this until I read the following excerpt of an interview with Tom Baker, the beloved 4thDoctor of the immortal and long lived BBC Doctor Who television series –
When asked “What is your one biggest Doctor Who memory?” the fourth incarnation of The Doctor, Tom Baker, replied:
“I remember a man stopping me in Oxford Street once, looking at me with absolute incredulity; he couldn’t believe it. He said ‘Tom Baker?’ A man in his late thirties. I said ‘Yes.’ He said ‘Tom Baker?’ I said ‘Yes!’ And he looked at me and in his brain he catapulted back in time and he said, ‘You know, when I was a boy, I was in a home for children; nobody wanted us, you know? It was terrible. And you made Saturday night good.’ And I went to say something to him and I could see him so close to tears that he couldn’t speak. And he shook his head as if to say ‘Don’t go on, don’t remind me,’ and he just did [a thumbs up]. Such a common thing, isn’t it, but suddenly backed up with an expression on his face, through his tears, that was a knighthood. It was a knighthood. Just a thumbs up, meaning it was great and thanks. It’s incredible isn’t it? Just a gesture.”
It occurred to me that we love celebrities for two reasons….on one hand we revere beautiful and talented people because we wish we could be like them.
On the other…we love them out of gratitude. Gratitude for the happiness they brought us, for making a part of our lives bearable, for inspiring us, motivating us, and influencing us in positive ways. For this reason, celebrities are still important.
Not as an object to be worshipped, but as another fellow mortal who enriched your life. A stranger who has enriched many lives, and yet who may never know the true impact they made on every individual.
Tom Baker has still not been knighted as of this blog, but if any celebrity is more deserving of a title for the happiness he brought to generation it would be he and others like him.
Thanks for reading –
Please – if you could just take a brief moment to leave a comment below about the special celebrity strangers who have enriched your life – I would like so much to know who they are and why. Maybe they aren’t even strangers anymore, maybe you’ve had the privilege of meeting them or getting to know them! – RoTT ‘N RoLL!!