Friday Aug 28

Foot-in-the-Mouth Disease

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Shooting off the mouth is common and with more and more celebrities unsure of the longevity of their fame, foot in the mouth might make them seem silly, but it still puts them in the spotlight, as Rajesh Iyer finds out through some recent bloopers.

Celebrities give us ample reason to revel. Some of it out of their sheer achievements that the lesser mortals love to laud with fervour, but many because invariably celebrities get infected by this disease most of them take it as their birthright. Well, actually the birthright they think is that they can say anything and get away with it. In reality, they suffer from this amazing disease that's also called 'foot in the mouth'.

Now, we can categorise these diseased celebrities into two segments: those who commit actual faux pas and those who have realised that spotlight falls on them, irrespective of whether they talk sense or not. Sooner or later, even the innocent among the lot realise the power of these nonsensical words. It does to them what even their deeds can't: get the paparazzi after them. So, what if those flimsy words reveal the flimsier brain behind it! That don't bother none! Why should it? It didn't a minister in a state government when he blurted out against the UNESCO and equated it with the East India Company for shortlisting ten sites that are biodiversity-rich areas which are up for inclusion on the World Heritage list. Politicians are known for this great art. But, stars aren't far behind.

A big Hindi film star had gone on record in the eighties during Bofors scam and said that he wondered why everyone is going gaga over children food. He claimed that he mistook 'Fairfax', the agency involved with 'Farex'. Internationally too, they have their share of faux pas. Sample this! Naomi Campbell goes to England and proclaims proudly that she loves English food and that there's nothing more lovely than a "bowl of pasta." Brits and pasta? The Brits kept a stiff upper lip and enjoyed their fish and chips. Well, Campbell can be forgiven for her dim wit, for the leggy lasses aren't known for their grey cells.

As if not to be outdone by the politicians and stars, the sportsmen have displayed some amazing foot-in-the-mouth moments that can leave people stumped. Sample what Ted Dexter had to say in 1993 describing yet another English cricket team's defeat in Ashes series. Actually it will have its effects only when produced in verbatim. "Maybe we are in the wrong sign. Maybe Venus is in the wrong juxtaposition with something else. I don't know," he said. Frankly, Mr. Dexter, even we don't know.

Talking of sportsmen in general and cricketers in particular, Indian cricket has its share. Vinod Kambli picking up an issue of match fixing after fifteen years is a recent case in point. Then, of course, we have our own Siddhu with his Siddhuism, who every time he opens his motor mouth, makes TV viewers dash for their remote controls to change the channel.

With celebrities involved in some such comment splashed in public led to the annual Foot in the Mouth Award in Britain. Dexter and Campbell have both been 'proud' recipient of the award.

If we had our awards, there will be some big winners. Rahul Gandhi seems like a great competitor, with some comment or another time and again that puts him and his party both in a fix. But, he has serious competition from within his own party. Digvijay Singh is a man who can beat anyone in this country when it comes to this amazing game. Going by his spate of comments with unfailing consistency in the recent years, you almost wonder if he ever takes that foot out of his mouth.

While we are discussing the recent ones, we cannot actually forget the mother of them all. Queen Mary of France is being credited with a line that has not only gone into history but also defines history. When told that people of France don't have bread to eat, she is said have kept a straight face and responded, "Why don't they eat cake?"

But, as we come to present context, the winner, without an iota of doubt is the former US President George Bush. He had a plethora of winners spouting out of his mouth, but this one wins hands down. "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe – I believe what I believe is right." Anybody who thinks these foot-in-the-mouth moments are a liability, think again. Bush was the US president for two terms.

(Rajesh Iyer happens to be the editorial and creative director of a media group and babbles when he isn't whipping up books and stuffs like that for kids)

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