The plane to psychological manipulation is here, says Tsunami Costabir. Put on your ‘Airport Clothes’; we’re taking off on a mission to figure out how popular trends go from super organic to game-changing!
As a self-aware person, I know that doom-scrolling on Instagram and Pinterest does a lot more than waste my time – it influences deeply my fashion and lifestyle choices (and surely, many more layers of my life that I’m not so aware of).
If your feed is full of 30-60 second videos of celebrities walking out of the gym, into an airport, or on their way to dine with a fellow celebrity, and you wonder why someone thought that was worth posting about; or better still, why you choose to watch such content, the rest of this piece might give you insight.
From having Instagram pages dedicated to paparazzi shots of celebrities, photographers paid to follow them around, and fashion columns in the biggest of magazines breaking down a casual celebrity look, we can’t seem to get enough!
Movie stars aren’t just big screen actors; they are aspirational, cultural icons. Now if you think that they are naive to this fact, think again. There’s a huge industry associated with making a psychological impact on a viewer (read: consumer) in the portrayal of a celebrity’s casual, day-to-day life.
Think about all the brands that you associate sneakers, sweatpants, bags, and anything else “athleisure” with. Who are the brand ambassadors? The subtle ones, more importantly. (A subtle brand ambassador is someone who uses products that display logos and signature styles of brands; like the red-bottomed Louboutin, the three stripes for Adidas, the Nike tickmark, and the green-themed Starbucks coffee cup are symbols. An aspirational person using these products makes the product itself aspirational. Yes, the cool kids at your school were also inadvertently subtle brand ambassadors.)
An easy way to prove how the media controls your mind is this – clothing like jeans, hoodies and sweatpants are not actually comfortable to wear in countries with warmer climates; we still wear them and proclaim them comfortable.
The casual lives of celebrities – what they wear, the cars they get into, the entourage of people who walk into a space with them, the people they hang out with, and the dates they go on – have captivated people all over the world. So much so that it has gone from an organic show ‘n’ tell to a planned, strategic one. Celebrities are even rumored to be in contractual relationships with co-stars; because we are doubly interested in their romantic lives, aren’t we?!
Viral Bhayani, who got his whopping 4.4 million followers on Instagram from sharing short snippets of celebrities walking in and out of airports, restaurants and gyms, got on a quick call with us and said, “You gotta give the people what they want.” So, if it’s a famous, glamorous celebrity who’s well dressed and looks fantastic; or even if they’re doing something ridiculous and making controversial statements, it’s entertainment!
Viral knows to separate his work from his ego; and spends a lot of time working on “what sells” – for example, a really good actor, wearing something normal and doing nothing out of the box, is not as entertaining as an eccentric personality, wearing something weird, making exciting conversation with the paps… (ahem… Rakhi Sawant, Urfi Javed). Celebrities are encouraged to ‘put on a show’ for better publicity.
Anaita Shroff Adajania, one of the biggest stylists in India, told us that for a public figure who has a lot going on in their lives, it’s smart to hire a stylist for their casual looks. “Not because they can’t think for themselves, but because they have a lot going on in their lives” – they know that the publicity they get from such images helps in promoting their upcoming movies and projects. So yes, a lot of your favourite celebs are professionally styled for those “unexpected” shots.
Taapsee Pannu on a show with Abish Mathew joked about how she opened up her trolley bag right before leaving the airport and put on a jacket, just so she could have an “airport look”; and being someone who drives herself, was self-conscious about not having a car to get into right out of the airport, and having to call for an Uber instead!
What you see isn’t all there is.
The Kardashians are world-famous for being famous; they allegedly pay paparazzi to not only click their photos, but also edit and touch them up to make them look flawless before they release them to the media. Put two and two together and you know what’s happening around the rest of the world too… an articulate creation of an image.
Again, what you see isn’t all there is.