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Focus: The power of influence

Glamour and projection have trumped the good old values of hard work and perseverance

  • Image Credit: Illustration by Ramachandra Babu/©Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

What does it take for a person to be influential in today's world? Is it the impact of the work you do? Or a charismatic personality? Nowadays, it seems, all you need is a bit of glamour and skillful marketing. At a time when mass media and the internet seem to have captured the imagination of the masses, has glamour become the new influence? This was the question raised when Time magazine released its list of the 100 most influential people in the world recently. With the likes of US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the magazine listed British party planner Philippa Middleton, who came into the spotlight as the maid of honour in last year's royal wedding between Prince William and the now Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton. Apart from being regularly featured in the media for her looks and fashion sense, Middleton's resume appeared to pale in comparison to the statesmen, artists and social workers on the list. In this week's debate, we ask if glamour and projection have trumped the good old values of hard work and perseverance. Share your opinion on the topic on our Facebook page ‘Gulf News Al Nisr Publishing UAE' or tell us at

15:35 Gulf News: Is glamour the new influence?

15:37 Maheen Abbas: I think this is very close to what is being observed nowadays, as it is very rare for people to comment: "He's not just a superstar, he's a role model." In today's world, he or she just has to be a star and famous person, for whichever reason.

15:38 Lakshmi Ajay: Glamour is the new influence for the weak-minded people, who yearn to live in a world of glitz.


15:40 Salim Mohammad: We live in a world of glamour and glamorous people. People are made celebrities by publicity and demand, which in turn are obviously made by the media. Just imagine a world with no media and no publicity. No one will turn towards the glamorous or famous. Glamour has become the most influential substance for any endorsement. For example, in India the number of children with polio was very high, until the veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan became the brand ambassador for polio schemes. Now, they have managed to control the disease.

15:41 Yasmin Hajara: If a famous celebrity promotes a product, people blindly purchase it, without thinking if it would help them or not.


15:46 Gulf News: Projection is more important than substance in a world driven by media.

15:49 Salim Mohammad: I think the media plays its roles well, but there are times when this could result in a negative impact. While people who've been highlighted for their genuine works should be applauded, at the same time others use it just for the sake of publicity and marketing their ‘wishes' to do something.

15:56 Shajitha Shifa: I agree. During marketing, their main aim is to reach the audience to gain popularity. But at the end of the day, what did we gain? Nothing.

15:58 Maheen Abbas: For example, Kim Kardashian being ‘flour-bombed' by someone moved from being one video clip to the headline of all the newspapers and received tweets and posts on Facebook. Imagine the space, time and coverage costs involved.

15:58 Gulf News: People are willing to follow anyone who can sell a dream.

16:04 Maheen Abbas: Yes, it is not just the high life but the brand names that matter, too. You may have noticed how some brand are not even in the limelight until they are worn by the star who is the talk of the town. You too might think, "Oh, they might have some good ranges and collection. That's why the star opted for it." This is actually not so true.

16:05 Imran Khan: In our society that largely obsesses about celebrity culture, celebrities can have a powerful impact on a person's life. From fashion trends to political views, the attractiveness of a celebrity's lifestyle can influence people's beliefs.

16:07 Gulf News: Instant recognition and gratification on the internet has discouraged people from investing in building real talent.

16:07 Salim Mohammad: Yes, that is true, and an example is the song ‘Why this Kolaveri di'. It had its share of hits and there were remakes in many other languages, too. But on another note, some of the Arab Spring revolutions created in Egypt or Syria are also due to the strong influence of people's feedback as on twitter. So, it acts as both a good and bad influence.

16:11 Maheen Abbas: Yes it has. I believe the media doesn't really try to dig and approach true talent. They too would rather concentrate on what is readily available in the market and use it as news.