OP/ED: Beware the dangers of 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'
This week’s column is going to be focused on a major pet peeve of mine; it may seem a bit ‘ranty’ because I’m feeling a little hormonal today … so bear with me. It’s something that has always bugged me but has become more apparent to me recently through certain interactions and conversations. So without further ado, Christine’s pet peeve of the week is … (drum roll, please) … Tall Poppy Syndrome. Informally, T.P.S can be defined as cutting down, criticizing, and making fun of anyone who stands out too far from the crowd due to their talent or achievement; and it drives me nuts!
Seriously?! What’s with that? Why do we make fun of successful people? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Are we trying to beat them back down?
The victims of T.P.S. who have come to my attention lately are Justin Bieber, Chad Kroeger, and E.L. James, to name a few. I probably have a couple of you already rolling your eyes, thinking of how ‘lame’ Nickelback is, or how the ‘Biebs’ sings like a girl.
Well, I’ll tell you this much, he probably sings like a girl a heck of a lot better than we do.
Or perhaps you have been one of the people to have commented on how ‘poorly written’ the popular trilogy 50 Shades of Grey by author E.L. James is? Well, for such a poor writer, she sure has done well for herself. After all, she has beaten out Harry Potter to become the fastest-selling paperback of all time. I don’t see anyone else releasing a top-selling ‘mommy porn’ trilogy which is being credited with igniting the passion back into tons of marriages.
Okay, I’m ranting, I apologize. My point is, it’s one thing to not be a fan of someone’s particular music or writing style, or their acting or vocal talent, but it is quite another to rip them apart at the seams. And it’s not just directed towards famous people, we do it to the general public too, even our own friends and family!
Why do we do that? Why do encourage successful people at first, and then, when they become too successful, we turn on them like a pack of jealous toddlers?!
I read the first of the 50 Shades books and I didn’t do back flips over it, I’ve read better books and I’ve read worse, but I do respect the author for what she’s accomplished. I mean, if I get to write and publish a New York Times bestseller, I’ll be one happy girl. Not everyone does that. And not everyone teaches themselves how to play the trumpet, guitar, and percussions, becoming a teenage sensation before they even hit puberty, as Beiber has done. You don’t need to like’em, but geez, leave them alone! Why can’t we just say “It’s not really my style, but good for them!”
Why are people actually putting in the time and energy to develop websites solely devoted to making fun of these people? First of all, who has that much time on their hands? Second of all, I’m pretty sure the Biebs is too busy buying mansions, participating in charities, and teaching himself how to play new musical instruments to concern himself with any of that sort of stuff.
I’m not a huge Justin Bieber or Chad Kroeger fan, but isn’t it a waste of time to sit around making fun of their hairstyles, speculating about their sexuality, or criticizing their musical talent? After all, they are entitled to whatever hairstyle they want, I don’t care which way they swing, and they DEFINITELY have more musical talent than me.
I’m not going to pretend that I’ve always been a saint either, I haven’t.
I’ve cracked jokes, I’ve snickered and jeered, but then I have also had moments where I’ve realized “Christine, you’re an idiot! Here you are sitting on your couch in your fat pants, eating Doritios, and making fun of someone who makes tonnes of money by following their dreams!”
And there is something to be said for following your dreams. It takes bravery, persistence, and a lot of hard work to pursue something that you believe in; and getting made fun of by a bunch of goons doesn’t make it any easier. But the ‘Biebs’ and Kroeger didn’t give up. Obviously. Doesn’t that deserve kudos?
So, as I sit here feeling grateful to those of you who have endured my hormonal rant, I also urge you to be more aware of your words and fight back against T.P.S. Whether it is with a friend who has done well for themselves or a teeny-bopper who has attained major stardom, let’s all be encouraging of one another. Let’s all drop the jealous toddler routine, and in the words of Margaret Thatcher, “Let your tall poppies grow!”