The hero-worship impulse in humans is so potent that if they do not have a genuine hero, they readily invent one. Even when they have a legitimate hero-figure, they tend to keep on inflating his merits and continue elevating his stature, until he or she attains a humanly impossible level.
It is always instructive to observe individuals who revere two different men from the same field fighting hammer and tongs regarding whose hero is bigger and better. On YouTube, for example, and to name but one rivalry, Rafi and Kishore aficionados can be seen slugging it out in the comments sections of songs sung by one or the other. To an extent this is to be expected, what with the urge to dominate (by proxy if not directly) being so irresistible in man. However, too often the veneration of heroes is taken to a degree where it defies all reason.
By no means does this happen exclusively on YouTube or for that matter the social media at large. Few drawing room conversations are complete without somebody magnifying his hero to unbelievable proportions. For instance, somebody would causally state (as if it were an established fact) that Lata Mangeshkar recorded 30,000 songs in her illustrious career. He is not likely to take kindly to anybody doubting this figure. He has heard it from somebody who has probably read the number from one of the numerous websites that do not think twice before reproducing the ‘information’ that originated nobody knows where. This sort of fan is motivated by the best of intentions: that of elevating Lata’s stature. He fails to realize that somebody who has sung Saawan ke jhoole pare would hardly require her stature to be elevated by anybody.
Unfortunately, it is not merely random individuals and obscure websites that are guilty of failing the fact- and sanity-check on this sort of ‘information’. Guinness World Records for many years maintained that Lata was the most recorded artiste in the world, having already sung 25,000 songs by 1974 (a number with no basis in anything). Though the ‘record’ was ultimately erased, the figure has kept doing the rounds to this day. When, three weeks ago, a renowned and well-respected newspaper (which shall remain unnamed) carried an obituary piece on Lata, it stated that she had sung more than 44,000 songs in her career. A simple calculation demonstrates that had she sung one song every day (without fail) from 1950 to 1990 (her busiest period), that would have amounted to a total of 14,600 songs. For 30,000 she would have required 80 years; for 44,000, 120 years! When the editors of newspapers do not bother with simple logic, what chance the fanatic?
The pathology of this brand of hero-worship is such that it tends to escalate with time – the ‘facts’ reported become more and more dubious, with the links between arguments and conclusion becoming more and more tenuous.