chapter  5
25 Pages

Open season: The perennial backlash against business celebrities

In the previous chapter we made the point that the production and circulation of photographs and other visual images contribute substantially to the aura surrounding business celebrities, and to the kind of rapt fascination that, for example, would lead cheering crowds of thousands to turn out to catch a

glimpse of Bill Gates even in a far corner of the world like Hanoi. But we certainly do not want to imply that visual images of business celebrities always elevate them to the status of heroes to be emulated, that the media invariably treat business celebrities in a positive manner, or that widespread attention paid to business celebrities stems exclusively from the general public’s unflagging admiration for their achievements and acumen. In fact, our emphasis on the multiplicity of celebrity images in circulation, and on the multiple meanings that get attached to those images, implies just the opposite. For every person that reveres Bill Gates as a great business leader, there seems to be another who despises him as a power-hungry monopolist. He is not the most visible business figure in the world merely because computer engineering students from Houston to Hanoi all love him, or love the idea of him.The media frenzy for all things Bill Gates is also driven by the fact that so many people love to hate him, or simply hate the very idea of him.