In my last article, I wrote about a veteran radio announcer who criticised someone in the same industry over social media. Some agreed with his post, while a few pointed out that he is a bitter “has-been”.
Because I am in this industry and age is catching up, I feel quite wary of the word “has-been”.
According to WiseGeek, a has-been is someone who once enjoyed fame and popularity, but does so no longer. Celebrities are most at risk of becoming has-beens, due to the high profile lives that they lead.
For those who make their living on the basis of image, such as celebrities and models, the risk of becoming a has-been is very real.
Sadly, it can be difficult to turn an image-based career into something more secure and long standing as many actors and models are viewed simply as pretty faces.
What then, are their options? Many actors might try to branch into producing and/or filmmaking, while models may experiment with their own fashion lines and branded consumer goods in the hopes of capitalising on their names long enough to branch out into careers based on something other than their physical appearances.
Or, you can stick to what you do best, but reinvent yourself along the way; just like what Queen of reinvention and pop star Madonna, is doing.
Love her or hate her, Madonna is receiving a lot of news space recently. From news of her flashing her (toned) derrière at the Grammys and planting an unexpected kiss onto rapper Drake, to her impromptu stand-up debut on The Jimmy Fallon show.
While most shrug this off as a “what do you expect? It’s Madonna” stunt, some critics were harsh saying Madonna’s fame was deteriorating and spiralling down that road of being ‘another popstar has-been’ and that she’s in her final bid for publicity to make herself “relevant” again.
I am a huge fan of hers and she has always pushed her boundaries since her Like a Virgin days back in the 1980s.
Why were her bold fashion and song statements considered cool and trendy back then, but now as she approaches her 60s, it’s a “cheap publicity stunt”.
I think this is ageism coming to play. Age discrimination refers to the actions taken to deny or limit opportunities to people on the basis of age.
The stereotypical conformity reminds us that as we age, we should tone down — to not be rebellious and to basically, “act our age”.
What then, is the expectation for a 58-year-old pop star? To stay put at home and look after their grandchildren?
Most seniors are mentally and physically active regardless of age and are still able to contribute.
Sadly, societal norms marginalise seniors, make them feel unwelcome, are treated with mockery and otherwise generalise as if they we were all the same.
If you watched Justin Bieber’s Roast on Comedy Central recently, you would have heard him getting back at ‘the best and brightest comedians that Comedy Central has to offer’ with his rebuttal, “What do you get when you give a teenager 200 million dollars? A bunch of has-beens calling you a lesbian for two hours.”
It garnered huge laughter and applause by the audience and comedians on the dais.
Amongst the celebrities who were invited to “roast” Bieber were Kevin Hart, Martha Stewart and Ludacris – definitely not “has-beens” in my book, given the fact that their popularity is still soaring and that they are earning huge amounts of money!
Politicians can also struggle with the ghost of becoming a has-been. Mistakes made in the past, can come back to haunt people over the course of a political career. Character assassination is nothing new in campaigns and politics, and every possible attempt will be done to dig such information out from the closet.
Recently, our former prime minister has been pretty vocal about some thorny issues questioning the credibility of our current leader. This has definitely ruffled some feathers and those who pledge support for the current leadership are quick to shield him saying that “Tun M sudah nyanyok” (Tun M is senile) and that he is just a “has-been politician”.
I’ve watched him at a talk recently. Definitely not nyanyok!
When I took that leap to leave the station that I was with for almost 13 years, I was worried.
What if my emcee jobs slowed down now that I am no longer “famous on TV”? Would I still be relevant?
I took this risk nonetheless as I was feeling quite jaded and felt that I needed to follow my heart. There is a saying: “Quit while you are ahead”.
It is a harsh reality that most traditional media like television and radio, event organisers as well as brand think tanks are more embracing of younger, newer blood.
So for people like me, we have to find a way to create our own niche, to find our own voice and to look for ways to survive and have continuity in the industry.
With the era of social media, this is made possible where I can now have more leeway in content and more freedom to the issues that I choose to document on my youtube channel.
I will not let ageism win this battle against me. I’m optimistic and that “has-been” my mantra.