The Case of the Trini Celebrity: Reality or Wannabe?

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Popularity begets celebrity, and like bees to honey, we ‘normal’ folk like to maco celebs’ movements.

Every culture has its own criteria, and in the case of Trinidad and Tobago, bacchanal, popularity, and notoriety factor heavily in gaining celebrity status. Still, how do we really decide who is or isn’t a celebrity, and, more importantly, do we even have bonafide celebrities?

Consider your local deejay who hasn’t really ‘blown up’ as yet, but is big enough to have complimentary ticket-chasing groupies blowing up his pre-paid Blackberry. Is he a celebrity? Examine “Saucy Pow”, a cross-dressing male who specializes in public ‘palancement’ and other attention-grabbing tactics, and is well known across the East-West Corridor. Is he a celeb?

Former beauty queen turned fashion designer Anya Ayoung Chee was recognizable even before the infamous tape leaked, and the unfortunate situation has only made her a bigger name. Surely she is a celeb of sorts? And what about internationally recognizable figures like Wendy Fitzwilliam, Dwight Yorke and Brian Lara? You have to be real toting to not call those icons celebrities, right?

The truth is that we do have many celebrities in Trinidad and Tobago, just different types.

A celebrity is defined as a person who is easily recognized in a society or culture. In Trinbago, when the average person speaks about celebrity, what they are actually referring to is celebrity in the international sense, one who is widely recognized in the society of the world. However, a person can also be a celebrity in their country, in their borough, in their village, on their street, in their home or even exclusively in their mind.

 

“One of Trinis’ favourite pastimes is spurning celebrities from the loins of bacchanal.”

 

One of Trinis’ favourite pastimes is spurning celebrities from the loins of bacchanal; this fits in well with our other pastime of tearing them down and leaving them in a sad state, similar to the now destroyed church in Guanapo. Celebrities who are well-known for impressive achievements that are based only on skill, knowledge, intelligence, and bravery etc are too boring and are not held in the same light.

Wendy has been representing Trinidad and Tobago on multiple fronts since her Miss Universe win. She has been admitted to the bar, bagged an executive position, and even recorded a jazz demo. However, her limelight return was due to her having a child out of wedlock. Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez won all major competitions in 2009, a feat no woman or hard-back man has ever accomplished in Trinidad and Tobago’s history, yet most people will only remember it as the year she was pregnant. Even all of Patrick Manning’s legacy-preserving buildings will be replaced by the image of him being booed by his own supporters in the Balisier House.

Built on our love of bacchanal, which I admittedly join in now and then (I never even heard of Sampson Nanton before his video), we often fail to appreciate bonafide, international celebrities who have sprouted from our soil, and produce good fruit the world over. I normally chalk it up to us being so small that it’s too easy for us to physically see our stars, effectively displacing the air of mystique, which surrounds say a Nicki Minaj, as the organizers of “Localize Itt” would certainly know.

Brian Lara, the holder of the highest, individual score in first-class cricket, is someone who I’ve seen in many of the Carnival fetes I’ve attended. He even stumbled into me once and didn’t say sorry (daz no scene of course).

So even though people would know Dwight Yorke and Brian Lara have distinguished themselves on a global scale, it doesn’t feel that way since they are regularly seen in a human situation like how I saw KMC paying his phone bill in TSTT a morning. Maybe that’s it. Maybe if people saw Lady Gaga eating a doubles by Brooklyn Bar then that would be it for her. No setta gallery. No more Lady Blah Blah either. Maybe.

Maybe that’s why a Machel Montano or a Bunji Garlin wasn’t deemed big enough by the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister to spearhead an event, which had the word ‘local’ in its name. They probably don’t possess that illusion of stature, which makes deejays play “Dutty Love” a million times a day, and announce giddily that Nicki Minaj is Trini even though a casual Google search can’t reveal which part of Trinidad she was from.

Now is the time for us to start making celebrities out of people who excel at things that make us proud instead of just bacchanal. There is a place for bacchanal, but it must be balanced. Gossip always sells, but we should really pay more attention to our local celebs who are great exemplars for the youth.

Like I said, popularity begets celebrity, but the criteria for celebrity should focus on someone’s achievements and true talent, especially if they’re going to make the A-list, and the front page of our daily newspapers, instead of page 38.

 

Image credit: guardian.co.tt

 

David "Da Face" Hamilton

David Hamilton aka Da Face is a local hip hop artiste who moonlights as a blogger, when he's not trying to capture the hearts and ears of listeners with creative and positive music. He also maintains a blog called "Underground Trini Artiste", and often tries to represent and promote the lesser known artistes in Trinidad and Tobago.

1 Comment

  1. Quilin Achat

    qachat

    September 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

    All I can say is ‘word’. Let’s really make celebrities out of Trinbagonians trying to make a difference.

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