Carpool Karaoke; Visual Biographies?
James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke is some-what hot property right now. Each episode is eagerly awaited, along with the reveal of the starring celebrity. Yet what a lot of people no doubt see is celebrities in a car singing their songs, and they love it. But what I hope a lot of people aren’t forgetting is its importance to the industry; to the celebrities themselves and to our view of them.
There’s a couple of reasons I’m talking about Carpool Karaoke for this week’s column post, one is personal, and one is universal. One reason being that James Corden has been somewhat of a ‘hero’ of mine in later life (although at almost 21, later life really represents the ages of about 12 to now so not that late really). For an aspiring actor/writer/director having grown up with the likes of James Corden on my screens, someone who is now an actor/writer/producer/good singer/presenter/all-round-kinda-guy, was pretty helpful. After reading his autobiography, I also got a greater sense of who he was as a kid, as a teenager, and as an adult, most importantly realising just how similar he was to the rest of us. Fortunately he has nearly always given off this sort of humbled but talented, everyday-bloke-who-worked-hard manner, but many celebrities struggle to do the same for whatever reason. This is where my second reason comes in. These episodes are, in my opinion, wonderful little short biographies of each star. Let me explain.
Celebrities are glorified. That is, in general, the nature of ‘celebrity’. For normal people with talent to be glorified to, many times, an international extent. They deserve to be, they’ve worked hard at what they’re doing, and they have talent (bar a few, unnamed ones) and so that should be recognised. Much of this column is about getting more people to recognise the talent or interests of others, so in a sense that is glorification in some ways BUT there is more than one side to glorification. The Good Side: People are alerted to the talent or good and hardworking nature of an individual, such an individual thus becoming a role model for many people. The Bad Side: Talented (but normal) people are recognised before being forcibly turned into press hounded, mythical beings with super natural powers to heal dying babies.
The problem with The Bad Side comes back to my first article for this column about ‘Our Heroes’. It deifies them, disconnects them from being a human and turns them into gods that can do no wrong. They can do no wrong? No, they can do plenty wrong, and that is fine. It is in human nature. Emphasis on the human. Once celebrities are given this glorification it can be hard to get out of it, and hard to be seen as anything but human. Autobiographies, and now, in the case of Carpool Karaoke, visual biographies help.
These celebrities as soon as they enter the car, and shut the door are given a new, temporary lease of life. They are given a chance to return back to a more innocent time (excuse the melodramatic phrasing). Sitting in a car with one other person, bar most probably some form of security driving behind and/or in front of them, they are away from the madness. As we watch them joyfully singing along to their songs, it’s a chance for them to be kids again. By this I mean they’re given the opportunity of reliving the innocence and relative freedom we have when we’re younger. Do you remember sitting in your car being driven along a long road and singing and pratting around without a care in the world? There’s a chance you still do it but not as often, and not without the responsibilities of being an adult. Imagine further that you’re an award winning musician, constantly being watched by the press, a pressure of what should come next, doing interviews all over the world, for hours on end at a time. Then you’re approached and asked to do an interview, but an interview that consists of sitting in a car, singing, and for the most part enjoying yourself. That must free you in some way. I’m not saying they would be completely void of anything, but you watch those episodes, and you see the way they’re talking, singing, dancing, it’s not something we’re used to seeing. Sure, we’ve seen them all dance, sing and talk before, that’s their job, but not in this way. The way they do it, and the manner in which we see them not caring as much over how they look, the impromptu feel of it, that’s what’s autobiographical. We get to see them being human, not perfected, not glorified, but doing the sorts of ridiculous and comfortably embarrassing things that we all do. Once you see someone in this light, effectively stripped back more than we’ve seen before, that’s when you get a better grasp of who they are. Just like us, they are someone’s child, someone’s partner, someone’s parent. They have grown up with a form of talent, they’ve worked it and they’ve gone through the hardship to get the success and that gives us a better level of hope if we want to do the same.
Carpool Karaoke is one of those ideas that television hosts and their producers will be steaming they never thought of before. It is something that without a doubt will continue growing in popularity, and will be one of those sections that everyone wants to be a part of. With each episode you can see not just how hard James Corden works to research and remember every song but how much each person is made to feel incredibly comfortable by him. As much as audiences can be stubborn, it might just make us see how all celebrities are human at the end of the day, and maybe it’ll even be a little bit of inspiration for the creatives of this world! Once a celebrities image is created, with it comes expectations that they’re expected to follow, and their fans feel they must also adopt in order to succeed. With this in mind, realistic, more relaxed style of interviews and ways of understanding celebrities like this are surely more important than we first imagined.
The Quote of the week is a longer one than usual by Indian composer A R. Rahman:
“I was a common man, and I will always remain a common man. No amount of stardom will ever consume my soul. Money comes, money goes. Fame comes, fame goes. I believe every human being is a celebrity in their own right.” – A R. Rahman
Here’s a link to all the Carpool Karaokes if you haven’t seen them so far: