• Vedashree Khambete Sharma

The Talented Mr. Asshole

Last week, I was in Bangkok for a shoot (yes, I know exactly how big-headed that sounds) with my adorable client servicing girl and my SuperBoss. While we were doing thrilling-to-bits things like waiting for the shot to be set up and lit, SuperBoss was regaling us with sordid media tales. About producers and directors, agency big-wigs and models. About embezzlement and cover-ups, about office affairs and extra-marital pawing. And every possible unholy combination of these.

At one point in the conversation, he was talking about an adfilm director with fantastic credentials and a mercurial temper, who also happens to be a sleazebag of the first order. As I heard about the man’s seniority in the business and his wayward hands, I wondered: How much can talent excuse?

Take actors, models, directors, producers, newsmen and women, admen and women, divas and whatnot – the best ones seem to all have flaws that their sheer talent overshadows. Uncontrollable rage, kleptomania, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, a complete lack of courtesy, the manners of a pimp, the vocabulary of a whore or the general intelligence of a head of cabbage. These qualities that would have made normal people social outcasts or the targets of a widespread hate campaign, are casually shoved in the background behind the shining beacon of their talent.

So what if s/he’s an asshole, everybody says, look at the work s/he does. Look how brilliant s/he is!

But I think we’re missing the point here. The fundamental truth, as it were. You see, a talented asshole is still an asshole. Ask Elin Nordegren.

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