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| December 10, 2019

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Money Knows No Bar, It’s Show-Bizarre

Money Knows No Bar, It’s Show-Bizarre
Viplove Sharma

For a decade now, Ethan hasn’t missed a single episode of Two and a Half Men. After a long day at work and an even longer drive back home in rush hour traffic, the antics of Charlie Harper spice up his monotonous life in twenty-two-minute chunks, allowing him to dip in and out of his miserable reality. But the rich Charlie Harper is just fiction, he thinks sometimes, and the thought soothes him. Little does he know, though, that Charlie Sheen, the real person behind the character, gets richer by millions every time he smiles mischievously at the screen.

One wonders how shocked Ethan would be if he was told that Charlie Sheen’s average pay for Two and Half Men, if you included rerun money is $2 million per episode. Even eighty hours a week could not impress Ethan’s boss enough to hike his salary by a few cents; yet his idol makes millions for a few hours’ work. While he endlessly prayed for the day when he would have more than a thousand dollars in the bank, zeroes piled up in the actor’s bank account. His prayers were never answered, because he was just Ethan Hyde. Charlie Sheen, because he was Charlie Sheen, didn’t even have to pray.

Unbelievable is perhaps the best word that can define remunerations that float around in show business. Charlie Sheen is not the only mathematical colossus. If you think what he got for delivering a few dialogues was ridiculous then it’s time you stretch your boundaries a little. Kim Kardashian, the socialite, allegedly commands up to $10,000 for every tweet she posts on her Twitter account as a part of her contract with an advertising company. Yes, ten thousand dollars for two-hundred-fifty thoughtless characters.

Sheen and Kardashian are just a couple of grains in the bowl of celebrities which make up the “A-list earnings club” of showbiz. No matter which grain you pick up, the numbers are similar. Whether it is Drew Barrymore (who, to her credit, returns 40 cents of every $1 she makes) or Nicole Kidman (who earns $15 million a film regardless of its success), their salaries make no practical or economic sense. As if the reaps from the profession are not enough, mundane assets like pictures of their new-born babies fetch them fortunes, like Jolie-Pitt and Lopez-Anthony.

Why is there so much money in showbiz? The initial thought bounces back with just one explanation written all over it: it’s illogical. Logic would say that salaries would be proportional to the level of specialization that a job requires and the demand of the people who can fill it, with slight aberrations. When one tries to understand the numbers in showbiz the aberrations spawn entirely different scales. Talking about skill and difficulty, what makes acting in a movie tougher than the job of, say, a top NASA scientist?

The real issue is to understand the stimulus behind these unfathomable figures. Is it that the payers have abundant wealth to squander, or are they just crazy? Well, neither. To think of it, what makes Kim Kardashian so sought after apart from the fact that she is a gorgeous woman? If we honestly ask ourselves, the answers lie within us. We made her special. We’re the stimulus. The millions of hits on her name on search engines every day, the universal band of paparazzi following her right from her house to every corner of the planet, the curiosity with which we hunt for any news that has her name in it – that is what makes Kim Kardashian more than just a gorgeous woman.

Be it Kim or any A-lister, it’s a fact that we worship them like Gods. We may not care for what the Holy Scriptures ask us to do but we blindly follow what the celebrities say or do. The opinions of academic experts mean nothing to us after reading one mindless tweet from a celebrity who does not even belong to the concerned field. The celebrities are after all just actors, models and socialites. Why can’t we just appreciate an actor’s work in a movie – which is all we should be interested in – and move on?

The truth is that we never do it, and that’s where the seed of curiosity is planted. The only problem is that the seed eventually grows into a towering tree of fanaticism. Charlie Sheen acted in a few movies and did nothing Oscar-like to be known for his acting skills. It was only after the world got curious about his personal life that the producers shelled out the big bucks to cast him as Charlie Harper. Had Sheen not been chased around or had his facts not been dug out, how much would he have been earning today?

The basket is so big that the cribbing never dies. Emma Watson, the child actor who played Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series, is now one of the richest actresses in the industry at the age of 22. How does Ethan explain to his daughter that though her favourite actress has a net worth of $41 million, she will still need to work for her measly allowance? Every night, he hears the latest Hollywood gossip from his wife: Tom Cruise plans to buy a $15 million house in Malta, Johnny Depp buys an island in the Bahamas… And every time he hears the numbers, he closes his eyes and tries to live a few silent hours away from the unreal world.

While millions of Ethans dream of living a luxurious life, millions of dollars pour on the celebrities who set and daily redefine unreachable standards of luxury. Remaining in the eyes of their fans is top priority for the attention-seeking film stars, and some stoop right down to the ground achieve this. It can be argued that the manipulation is ultimately a tactic to boost the business prospects of film projects. Even if the reasons seem logical it will always be immensely hard to stomach the astonishing figures that the bizarre showbiz world flaunts. Money truly knows no bar here.

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