This episode's vocabulary
- Grassroots (adj.) - ordinary people in a society or organization, rather than the leaders.
- Conformity (noun) - behaviour that follows the usual standards that are expected by a group or society.
- Akin (adj.) - having some of the same qualities; similar.
- Behold (verb) - to see or look at someone or something.
- Creeping (adj.) - happening, developing, or moving slowly or gradually.
- Prominence (noun) - the state of being easily seen or well known.
- Prime (adj.) - main or most important.
- Diminish (verb) - to reduce or be reduced in size or importance.
- Eclipse (verb) - to make another person or thing seem much less important, good, or famous.
- Recognition (noun) - if you are given recognition, people show admiration and respect for your achievements.
- Contribution (noun) - something that you contribute or do to help produce or achieve something together with other people, or to help make something successful.
- Credence (noun) - acceptance, support, or belief that something is true.
- Scratch the surface - to deal with only a small part of a subject or a problem.
- Cautionary (adj.) - giving a warning.
- Outright (adj.) - direct.
- Unsavory (noun) - unpleasant, or morally offensive.
- Feasible (adj.) - able to be made, done, or achieved.
- Correspondingly (adj.) - in a way that is similar to, connected with, or caused by something else.
- Proceed (verb) - to continue as planned.
- Emulate (verb) - to copy something achieved by someone else and try to do it as well as they have.
- Evaluate (verb) - to judge or calculate the quality, importance, amount, or value of something.
Questions and Answers
M: What kinds of people are famous in your country?
R: Oh, the same as everywhere else, really. Movie stars, authors, anyone who comes to the public eye via the media, really.
M: How do people become famous?
R: Well, there are very few grassroots famous people who create fame for and by themselves. They sort of rely on mass media to do that, which leads to a certain level of conformity. And that gets a little boring sometimes.
M: What kind of media help people become famous?
R: Well, visual media largely. They sort of shine a spotlight on this person and in short announce to the world something akin to look here. Look at this person and behold what they've done. And then they blast it far and wide for all to hear and see.
M: What are the differences between the famous people today and those 10 or 50 years ago?
R: Um, well, the ever creeping social media is sort of democratizing this process of becoming famous more so now. And famous people are more accessible via the same mechanisms. I suppose one could comment on the growing diversity and famous people too as other cultures gained prominence and find acceptance. Those are the biggest differences, I think.
M: Do you think famous people are necessarily good in their fields?
R: Not really. A prime example of this is Stephen Hawking, a brilliant mind trapped in a very unfortunate situation for sure. But he wasn't a leading scientist by far. I don't mean to diminish his achievements, but I think this is the disadvantage of some people becoming famous. There are other people who are eclipsed when they might deserve more recognition. And you can see this with the contributions made by other physicists who were in the same field as Stephen Hawking, for example.
M: Do you think the media pay too much attention to celebrities?
R: Yeah, absolutely. Um, actually, I want to go on record and state sort of loudly and proudly that no one in their right mind you give any credence to anything that celebrities have to say outside of their industry. Like, I don't care what Tom Cruise thinks about religion. Like that's not his specialism, his opinions on acting and sort of related industries I'm willing to hear about. But I'm not taking his advice about my soul.
M: Are celebrities an inspiration to the younger generation?
R: No. On the face of it, yes. If want young people to be successful. However, when you scratch the surface, you find, well, firstly, that this is only one conception of success. And secondly, it's got a cost. These people have a lot of problems mentally that come about as a result of their fame. It completely goes to their heads. So they should serve as cautionary tales instead of outright inspiration, in my opinion.
M: Do you think that famous people ever have a negative influence on ordinary people?
R: One hundred percent. I remember watching a video essay about male celebrity body transformations and the impact it has on young men and women and their own body images. It leads to a lot of disappointment, unrealistic body image and other unsavory things. And that's just one example. Like I could go on forever about this kind of thing.
M: Do you think famous people should be more responsible for their bodies and for what they're doing?
R: Well, it's their body. They can do what they like with it. So, no, it's other people's responsibility to be aware that celebrities don't represent a realistic ideal to follow because they have access to all of these other resources that these people don't have access to.
M: So ordinary people shouldn't just believe everything that celebrities say or do?
R: No, that's not feasible. Like, it's totally unrealistic as a way of managing your life by comparing it to someone who has access to completely different resources and has entirely different problems to deal with than you do.
M: What qualities do famous people have in common?
R: Well, they all seem to have a massive drive for success at almost any cost, and then they suffer a correspondingly significant amount of consequences for this effort. So movie stars are great at acting and getting attention and that attention to proceeds to invade their lives in a way that violates the most basic boundaries. Even scientists get this, like Einstein was a brilliant mind and helped reshape the world, but he wasn't a very nice person to be in love with. I'll just refer you to what he had to say about his wife. This is why we should be really careful when trying to emulate these people.
M: What about the future? Do you think there'll be more famous people in the future?
R: There will be more famous people, but we'll have more of a critical eye when we evaluate everything that they're coming out with. I absolutely believe that.
M: And in what industries do you think people will become more famous?
R: Well, social media is always a growing one, but that's the medium. The actual industries themselves will be people who comment on more specialized areas, like video game commentary, for example.
M: Thank you for your answers.
R: No problem.
M: Ok, vocabulary and grammar.
R: For a high score.
M: Band nine score. So, first of all, famous people, celebrities and fame as a noun. So people who create fame for themselves.
R: Yes. And you get a name for yourself as well.
M: A name for yourself.
R: You make a name for yourself.
M: All right.
R: Actually, that's a good point. You can make a name for yourself or you can get a name for yourself. So you make a name for yourself, you create the fame. If you get a name for yourself or get a name for something, that's someone else applying that to you.
M: Oh, wow. OK. Celebrities are always in the spotlight. That's a nice phrase, so to be in the spotlight is to be in the center of attention, so to be on the spotlight. And you say that media shine the spotlight on people.
R: Yes. So when you shine a spotlight on something, you give it extra attention. Actually, it's kind of an interesting metaphor because in real movies movie stars have a spotlight on them to emphasize their features in comparison to everything else. So it's kind of a good metaphor to use.
M: It is. Another good word is conformity. That's a good one.
R: Conformity is just how much you follow the rules. So, or how much you do something that's similar to a set standard.
M: And like people conform. To conform to something.
R: Yeah, it just means people follow the rules of something. You can conform in various degrees.
M: And if you follow the majority of people, you do what everybody else does, so you conform.
M: Yeah. And some people think it's a negative thing, you know, like to go with...
R: Yeah. If you believe in people being individuals, then complete conformity to what everyone else is doing is ridiculous.
M: Yeah, like everybody follows this person on social media and you have to do it, you know. Oh, you don't follow anybody on Instagram, oh.
R: Everybody seen Pulp Fiction. And then people, like behave like you're personally responsible for the death of Princess Diana. If you say, well, I haven't seen Pulp Fiction, like, that's one of these sneaky ways of enforcing conformity that I don't like. And I haven't seen Pulp Fiction and I'm not going to until people stop having that reaction.
M: Yeah, well, that's a good film.
R: It is a good film, but I'm not doing it until people stop saying.
M: OK, I haven't seen Star Wars, have you seen Star Wars?
R: Moving on, moving on, moving on.
M: Right, so ever creeping social media. Nice one, creeping.
R: Yeah. Ever creeping just means the influence is slowly expanding. So social media is ever creeping because it's always expanding in various ways.
M: But ever creepy is a negative thing. Right? It's creeping. Something is creepy, it's like scary. Or an insect is creeping on your arm, you know.
R: Yeah. People used to use that expression to describe like social welfare programs as creeping socialism, which just means like it's like trying to bring about an agenda in a very sneaky kind of way.
M: Hmm. A prime example is Stephen Hawking.
R: Yeah. So let's just say like a prime example is a good example or the main example.
M: Yeah, we have this café, which is called Prime.
R: That is completely irrelevant to what I'm saying but never mind.
M: Anyway, a good example, a prime example. And then you go "a brilliant mind trapped in an unfortunate situation".
R: Yeah. That describes Stephen Hawking pretty well.
M: Yeah, to be trapped, you can say like famous people are trapped. In the fame.
R: Yeah. They're trapped in a cage of their own making.
M: That's another quote from Rory Fergus Duncan-Goodwilly, yay.
R: People use metaphors of cages to describe what fame does to people all the time.
M: Mm. Fame is a cage, OK? And then you said something about credence.
R: Yeah, credence just is, like it's a noun for how much you believe something. So if you give credence to something, it just means that you believe it. You can give complete credence to something, which means that you believe it entirely or you shouldn't give any credence to something, meaning you shouldn't believe it. It's like how much credibility you give it. How much you think it's true.
M: Like no one in their right mind should give any credence to anything celebrities have to say about something outside of their industry.
M: Then we scratch the surface.
R: Scratch the surface is just like look beyond the initial or the impression that you have at first and you find out more information beyond that.
M: Oh, I thought like you're on the surface. So, when you scratch the surface, you go beyond. You go deeper. Oh, OK. He's yawning on the podcast right now.
R: Sorry, it's been a long day.
M: And when we talk about stars, again, famous people, stars, celebrities, we talk about invading their lives.
R: Yeah, paparazzi invade people's lives.
M: Paparazzi, yeah. And...
R: Well, some people invade our lives.
M: Who, when, how? Give us the details.
R: Sometimes, you know, you get so many messages on Instagram, it's like, wow, that's a lot. And I have to reply to all of them. It's a bit of an invasion. It's not like a serious problem. It's just like, oh, it's a little but much.
M: Dear listener, Rory is always happy to answer all of your messages. Feel free to find him on Instagram.
R: Most of the time it's nice. Somebody came up to me as I came out at the metro station today and they're like you're Rory Duncan.
M: Are you joking?
R: I'm not joking. And they're like, I follow you on Instagram. And I was like, oh, that's really nice. Who are you?
M: Are you joking? Really?
R: It was just a bit of a surprise at first. And I was like, oh, it's cool.
M: I'm telling you, he's getting famous.
R: It's very, very strange.
M: Wow. How did you feel?
R: Um, it's one of the few times that's ever happened. Well, no, actually, it happens fairly regularly, but still, every time it's a surprise.
M: Did you give them an autograph?
R: No, no. They just wanted to speak for a little bit, and that's fine. It was just really strange. It was weird.
M: Well, get used to it, baby.
R: I'd prefer not to. Like if I got used to it, then it would mean it wasn't special. And it's always special when someone decides to talk to you.
M: Oh, sweet. Violate the most basic boundaries. So violate, like to break.
M: Violate the rules.
R: And boundaries are just, well, the rules like you said.
M: Limits. Yeah, boundary, also like limits. So paparazzi violate the most basic boundaries.
R: But celebrities can give us outright inspiration, which means that they, well, they inspire people 100 percent uncritically. But if you are more critically minded, then they can serve as a cautionary tale, which means that you look at their example and you think, I don't want to do that.
M: Give us an example with this cautionary tale thing.
R: Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen?
M: I have no idea what you're talking about.
R: He is a cautionary tale of what celebrity does to people. He doesn't, like, he has problems. Like the man has problems. And, but the thing is, like, he's famous, but no one should behave in such a way and he understands that as well. So, you know, it's a cautionary tale that encourages people not to behave in such a way.
M: Oh, right. So everybody kind of like sees what he's doing and it's a warning. So don't do that. Oh, OK, alright. The last word that, one of the last words was emulate.
R: Emulate is just to copy.
M: Oh, so copy, replicate, emulate.
R: Well, emulate is to try to be like someone. Copy is like 100 percent like the same thing. Emulate is just to try to be like someone.
M: But it's not the same as look up to this person.
R: Oh, it comes about as a result of looking up to people.
M: Mm hmm. Because when we admire somebody or admire, respect, we can say I really look up to him.
R: Yeah, I want to emulate his success, for example. I want to have similar success.
M: OK, dear listener, we hope it was really useful for you and...
R: You can emulate our success.
M: Oh, yes, you can.
R: At Success with IELTS on Telegram, Instagram.
M: Spread our words about us into the world. Bye!
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