During the past week, it is hard for those living in Dubai not to have noticed the talk about Paris Hilton and her film shooting of the Middle East version of her reality show, My Best Friend (or something like that). Many newspaper and tabloids have been discussing this and talking about her stay in Fesitival City's Intercontinental Hotel which starts this upcoming week. Moreover, Festival City Mall is running a promotion (raffle) for the shoppers who spend 1000 AED with winners receiving Paris branded items. Love her or hate her; Paris Hilton symbolizes the epitome of using your status to further your own means.
Well, readers of 7 Days Newspaper (ironically printed only on weekdays now due to the financial crisis) have been following its own self-made celebrity, Eroll D’Souza. For background, 7 Days is followed regularly by the Western Expat population in addition to Western-minded Arabs. It is a newspaper that tends to be more critical of the government than other print media. In fact, Dubai Holding and its entities had strict instructions not to allow their advertisement budgets to be spent on 7 Days newspaper due to its editorial content. That is one reason that I enjoyed reading its readers letters to the editor because there was a lot of whining within it which allowed me to sense the frustration of the expats, the pulse of the street. That is where I was introduced to Eroll D’Souza, a regular ‘letter to editor writer’ who gets published.
The first time he caught my attention was when he started complaining about Tom and Jerry Cartoons and how violent they can be. Shortly afterwards, he had another letter published which stirred up significant controversy whereas he stated that he preferred cabin crew to be more men as ladies cannot carry heavy bags and luggage to the overhead compartments. Well, he stepped into a can of worms and struck a raw nerve as many indignant cabin crew (they read 7 Days regularly as I found out) started teaching him about duties and responsibilities of cabin crew and some threatening him with revenge. The outpouring of letters was so intense that he even published a letter apologizing for his arrogance and demanding mercy.
The problem is when you become famous, it is like a drug and you need your fix at shorter and shorter intervals. Well, sure enough several weeks later, Eroll D’Souza needed a fix and what does he do; write a letter about the disappearance of the Air France flight (in the first couple of days) stating his theory about the Bermuda triangle. Needless to say, he suffered again as several readers showed him up again and belittled his theory.
This got me thinking. Eroll D’Souza has become Dubai’s own Paris Hilton (minus the looks and the money). However, some part of us is jealous with his fame (no PR is bad PR) while the other part sighs in relief that we are not ridiculed like him. 7 Days editors probably love Eroll D’Souza as he provides its readers with light entertainment at no expense. I have been grabbing the paper seeing to catch his latest idiotic opinion. Some people liken Eroll to those stockholders who hold 10 shares in a company, but want to express an opinion at the Annual General Meeting for that company; you know the ones with too much time on their hands.
So, Eroll do not let your 15 minutes of fame go to your head. Do not become a pawn by 7 Days to entertain its readers at your expense. Rather, utilize your new found frame for a worthy cause. It is a great opportunity to do that. Perhaps you can encourage high school kids towards social activism by relating your advice on how to get published.