Two events that happened to me in Turkey prompted my latest blog.
The first occurred while travelling through Istanbul Airport with a colleague. We had stopped for a coffee and he informed me that the person on the next table was a top soap opera actor. Many people around him obviously recognised him but took no real notice.
The second occurred recently after a symphony concert in Antalya. Two friends took my wife and I to a fish restaurant for a fish soup and salad supper. When we arrived a man I did not know said hello to our friends and then said good evening to us. He then went off and I saw him at various times on the dance floor or when he went outside for a cigarette. When we left he said goodnight to us and only as we were walking to the car were we informed that he was a very famous actor.
I have had similar experiences with friendly interactions with ballet dancers, opera singers and members of the State Symphony Orchestra.
I realised that this could never have happened in England where I was born and where the easiest way to get on a pedestal is to be on TV, films or the stage. We often talk about the fifteen minutes of fame! In England the celebrity would be beseiged by autograph hunters and camera phones.
Don't get me wrong. I also admire good actors, dancers, musicians and singers. But because their chosen career is entertainment, their success is due to being good at their job. The medium by which they perform their work does not afford them any higher status.
I, and I expect my Turkish friends, do not think that an actor who does his job well is any more deserving of praise than a good doctor, a successful businessman or a hard working employee.
Unlike the West, all roles are valued and those that do best are valued regardless of profession. Perhaps if the West were to value all hard work equally then the celebrity cult would start to recede.
The one area that would suffer as people realised that reality TV was not a quick step up to success would be those very programmes. But if deceptive TV moguls that manipulate the public for their own profit were to suffer I, for one would not lose too much sleep!