What is it with people and their fascination with camera crews? In the last year, I've made (written, directed, and produced) several short movies for Aish.com, but the video that was the most amusing to film was "Miracle on 42nd Street" because it was shot in the middle of Times Square, and the passersby were going nuts that day.
(How many times have you seen those kids on the six o'clock news bobbing up and down behind the reporter, trying to get on their faces on camera? And how about the shameless adults who try to casually walk by, pretending that they don't mean to get caught on film. We know the truth.)
Complete strangers were flocking all around us. They wanted to know who we were, what were were doing, if they could be in our film. One woman enthusiastically offered me her young daughter, "Can you put her in? Can you?" "Lady," I thought to myself, "do you even know what we're filming this for? What if we're a bunch weirdos that intend to do something unsavory with the footage of your young child? Why do you feel the need to exploit her so?" (Instead, I just politely smiled and told her we didn't have an opening for her daughter at this time.)
Even talk of movie making gets people riled up. When I went around to some local stores to collect props for the film and I asked a clerk if I could borrow a milk crate for a movie I was shooting, his eyes lit up and, he started fawning just like the people in Times Square. "Oh," he wanted to know, "did you go to film school?" "Nope," I answered back, "just a regular college. I studied Philosophy, actually." His interest immediately waned.
I admit, I've also felt that inexplicable urge to jump in front of filming cameras on the street, but I've been trying to figure out why exactly people are like this, and I think it comes down to the fact that our society glorifies being in the spotlight and equates it with self-worth. If someone gets their fifteen minutes of fame whether it's through a reality show, an Internet video, or even a horribly embarrassing scandal, according to our society, that person suddenly "matters".
The Jewish approach of getting honor is achieved in the exact opposite way, though. As it says in Pirkei Avos (commonly translated as Ethics of the Fathers) "Who is honored? The one who honors others." In Judaism we realize that pushing oneself into the spotlight for the sake of being in the spotlight is anything but honor-worthy. It's only when we treat others respectfully and honorably that we'll ever come to receive true honor ourselves.
Now perhaps some of you are wondering how a woman who stars in Internet videos and writes a regular blog with an ever-growing following could write about not putting oneself in the spotlight. The answer is simple: If you have an important message to give over to the world, or even in a less lofty sense, if you have some sort of talent that will in some way better the world, then by all means, go ahead and do what you need to do. If one's intention for getting attention goes beyond the attention-getting itself, then there's nothing wrong with it as important messages need to be spread, and talent that was created was meant to be used.
But just remember- next time you're given the chance for some spotlight, ask yourself where the motivation is coming from. Do you have something valuable to pass on or are you just following in the footsteps of those annoying head-bobbers?