Idol worship

The young girls who throw themselves at the object of their obsession didn’t materialize from a vacuum.

Eyal Golan (photo credit: Hadad Eliran)
Eyal Golan
(photo credit: Hadad Eliran)
It was tantalizing. It was titillating. For weeks, much of this little country was abuzz with sensational speculation and vibrant banter about a nameless “famous singer,” whose name was no secret to anyone in this era of cyber-gossip.
But yesterday the hullabaloo was finally deflated. The mystery man’s own attorney allowed his client to be named. As almost everyone already knew anyhow, the vocalist accused of hosting orgies with underage fans is Eyal Golan – the very handsome and popular crooner of Mideastern-style serenades.
It’s not as if there was genuine guesswork prior to the formal disclosure, but the official gag order on his identity gave a seductive impetus to conjecture and hearsay.
If anything, the hype is a testament to our provinciality.
The unsavory relationship between celebrities and groupies is hardly new, hardly an exclusively homegrown phenomenon and hardly a surprise, especially against the backdrop of omnipresent media and social networking saturation.
Infatuated fans have for many decades besieged their idols and the idols have readily availed themselves of the sexual favors on offer. Over time, however, what was initially marginal and behind the scenes, has become something for the ardent admirer to brag about on the Internet.
It’s not only the electronic information providers out there who are to blame for this state of affairs. The young girls who throw themselves at the object of their obsession – whether they are just below the age of legal consent or barely above it – didn’t materialize from a vacuum.
Presumably, they grew up in a family and attended school. Somewhere along the line, they weren’t sufficiently inculcated with values that might fill their lives with content other than entertainment trivia and the ostensibly obligatory sensual fantasies about assorted all-the-rage stars.
All too many parents and teachers find it easier to put up no resistance and claim that there’s no chance of winning against the overpowering influences that bombard juveniles nowadays. It’s easier to go with the flow, be considered “cool” by the kids and not risk losing their acceptance. Thus it’s the youngsters, rather than their elders, who dictate moral attitudes and norms of conduct.
We might hope and expect that Israeli parents would be less lax and indulgent than given counterparts elsewhere in the Western world, but reality doesn’t always mesh with our wishes. That said, this is by no stretch of the imagination a problem unique to our social environment.
Hence there’s really no cause for the local consternation and commotion, especially before any certifiable facts are known. While the showbiz icon’s identity was all along all too easy to figure out via the simplest search engine, it still is hardly easy at all to get a handle on what his alleged transgressions actually are.
All this, though, doesn’t stop anyone with pretensions to be in the in-crowd’s loop from chattering lustily.
While scandal and innuendo routinely entice more consumers than do serious news and current events, this apparent aberration becomes all the more magnified in an insular context like ours.
And this should give us particular pause for reflection.
There’s a fine – if artificial – line between impropriety and illegality. It could quite easily fluctuate in either direction.
It could mean that star status entitles one to lenient disregard for his wrongdoing – even if drunken licentious revelry isn’t a felony as such. The perceived role model can in a lackadaisical setting become the worst sort of trend setter who in effect legitimizes debauchery and promiscuity to impressionable devotees.
Conversely, and no less dangerously for our social fabric, he can be victimized, prejudged and summarily condemned merely because of his fame. Fascination with the idol can in no time transform into a lynching in the court of public opinion that nowadays holds its unrestrained deliberations online.
It’s a tricky balancing act and we must avoid both extremes. To achieve this, we foremost need to get our priorities in order and dare to teach children from a very early age that it’s okay not to go with the flow and avoid being cool at any cost.