Monday, April 13, 2009
Tendulkar, Goody and Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds is a scam. Celebrities are co-opted into this scam because being selected for a Tussauds waxwork has successfully been marketed as a huge honour. So, people like Sachin Tendulkar consent to spending hours getting measured for a wax figure, and, once the model is ready, posing next to the likeness in a publicity shoot covered in most national dailies. Indians planning a holiday in London see the article and put Madame Tussauds in their places-to-visit list.
The scam takes advantage of the fact that, while cameras do not function like eyes, people believe they do. In photographs, the wax Sachin Tendulkar bears a fair resemblance to the live man, though the Tussauds marketing team must have wished the great batsman had shaved before the photo-op. When people actually visit the collection and see the work in three dimensions, they will find an uninteresting dummy placed alongside other equally uninteresting dummies, which happen to be crafted in the dimensions of the persons they represent.
Jade Goody's husband has been lobbying to have a figure of his wife installed in the museum, claiming it was one of her final wishes. Tussauds is unlikely to consent, for featuring the reality TV star would lower the profile of its dummy list. A death mask of Goody might be more appropriate than a full figure. The original Madame Tussaud, after all, came to public attention in the era of the French revolution by casting the faces of executed prisoners. Many of those casts still exist, and are displayed in a back room of the tourist attraction, categorised under 'History'. When I visited the place, having been directed there by a solicitous aunt during my first stay in London, I found the history section a huge relief from the tedium of the main exhibit.
Update April 15: Today's Mumbai Mirror carries an excerpt from this post in its column Blogger's Park. While the publicity is welcome, I'm amazed that the Mirror has actually set one of its sub-editors on my piece. Is it ethical to change the content of a blog in this fashion?
Aside from being irked, I'm surprised that the Mirror's subs have time spare to correct entries that need no correcting. The shoddy grammar evident in pieces filed by their reporters gives the impression of an organisation deeply understaffed in the proof-reading department.