(For the audio version of this text click on the audio file above)
In 1995 I began to work with the film and TV production industry. I started as a production assistant and eventually moved into having my own corporation providing support in teleprompting, video assist and sound-playback, once in a while I continued to work as either a prop-master or a prop-assist; most of my work that involved teleprompting were for infomercials.
The shooting of infomercials varied from a studio, to a park, and many times a rented home just for a day of production. I was based in Florida at the time and one particular production involved me traveling about 60 miles. Well, traveling 60 miles on an I-95 interstate was a gamble. When everything was perfect, one could calculate the traveling time, but since I am no gambler, I had decided to add another 40 minutes to my traveling time.
So, I was the first to arrive at this residence in West Palm Beach after having a breeze run from South Miami. The homeowner was cordial and she told me to wait inside; instead of waiting inside my car. The smell of fresh coffee cemented my decision to accept her invitation.
The television was on, I took a seat in the living room and coffee was soon to follow. A kitchen-bar divided the cooking area and living-room. My host was facing the TV set from the other side of the bar. She appeared to be chopping vegetables or so, I could not see it.
As soon as the commercials ended the show, “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” returned. I am savoring the coffee and watching the show in progress, and all of the sudden I heard, “I hate her!” There was nobody else around so I assumed it was the homeowner. The comment was not directed at me so I did not respond.
The show “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” just returned from commercials one more time, and about 5 minutes in to the new segment once again I heard. “I hate her,” this time I had no doubt it was the homeowner, and I said,
“I’m really not paying attention to this show, feel free to change the channel.”
“No, it’s okay.” She resumed with the vegetable chopping.
About 10 minutes passed and once again I heard, “I hate her!” I began to evaluate my decision of entering the house. What if this is the wrong house and I just entered a random house and the lady is a serial killer. She has hatred and a knife, she can’t kill Kathie Lee from her house, but if a random stranger got the wrong address, that is her a perfect alibi for a self-defense killing due to a home invasion. Just when I was about to pretend that my phone rang and I was going to take my cell phone call outside, there was a knock on the door.
Another team member arrived, she took a seat next to me. She worked with hair and make up. I never met her in a production before; in fact, the aspect that I loved in working for the film industry was that from production to production I only met about 20% of the people that I had worked with in a previous production, so a great job to make new friends and also not enough time to create office politics.
As my impromptu new colleague was enjoying her coffee in silence and watching TV as well, and just like a well timed cuckoo-bird once again the announcement came from the kitchen “I hate her.”
Unlike my reaction, the hair-makeup lady exclaimed, “Me too!” An instant friendship was born out of hatred and the dialog proceeded like this:
“Did you see, that last month, Kathie Lee worn the same dress twice?”
“I know that hideous green one!”
“Oh, that’s not all, her makeup was terrible, remember when she said …”
At this point, I became oblivious to the content of the conversation, I just knew that the homeowner and makeup-crew member were enjoying their shared hatred for Kathie Lee Gifford. My God! Poor Kathie Lee Gifford; she never met these two Floridian ladies, yet the ladies had several reasons to be entitled to hate her.
There is one word that consolidates all of these experiences, and the word is “envy.” The convoluted way that the human mind works is very interesting. The owners of the TV network who broadcast Kathie Lee Gifford, could not care less if she is watched out of hatred or out of admiration, as long as they are tuned in for the next series of commercials sponsoring Kathie Lee Gifford, everyone is getting their cut, including Kathie Lee Gifford.
Ms. Gifford is not alone, preceding or in concurrence with her is a radio show host called Howard Stern. The interesting phenomena in Stern’s case is that once he turned into paid satellite radio broadcast, he was able to draw his lovers and haters alike. In other words, they love to hate him. This particular situation became known in urban dictionary as the Stern Effect. Well, at the time, when I was watching the Gifford-haters while waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, I had no idea who Howard Stern was. I also had no idea that a TV set could compel hatred.
The most important thing to notice is that this phenomena is not about Kathie Lee Gifford, it is about us, if I may put in a number, then the number would be 100% about us. The best way I found to explain this was not going to a psychologist, but the book store. Always remember, if you cannot afford psychologists, read their books, it is much cheaper. Nonetheless, the book I found a particular answer to this Gifford-Hate-Effect was in a book written before the school of psychology was ever invented and even before the Christian Bible was compiled as one volume, in fact; historians and scholars place the first publication of this book circa the year 1030 before the birth of Jesus. The book is called The Shrīmad Bhāgavatam, which is part of the collection called Bhagavata Purana. The most amazing part of the book it is how it starts, it starts by concentrating on “self-effort.” In other words; whoever has self-effort neither hates Kathie Lee Gifford nor Howard Stern; because people who cultivate self-effort are more worried about their own mundane progress, their own spiritual progress and not worried about anybody’s lives.
There is a major point in self-effort that transcends a person’s existence. Many of our qualities comes from self-effort inherited from our past lives. Science and logic have no way to explain why certain individuals are born talented and other are not. For instance, if we place a piano in a kindergarten, some toddlers will kick the instrument while others will play works of Bach in the end of six months.
Another major point on envy, which is the opposite of the pride in self-effort and which is cultivated through hatred on ongoing basis has to do with pathology and chronic consequences of the cultivating hatred. Each time my former Floridian host was offering hatred towards Ms. Gifford she was also secreting an extra amount of stomach acid; for the human body tends to work poorly under stress. Therefore, like the mythological Ourosboros, the stomach of envious people will devour itself. In a way, it could be psychologically or even spiritually interpreted that an envious people are punishing themselves for lack of understanding of self-effort, for they only see one life-time of karma and not millennia of reincarnations turning each of us into who we are.
The subject of envy was triggered upon my return from a vacation from Europe in December 2016, since I found myself at the grounds of the Rockfeller Center and right across the Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb Studios in New York City. Kathie and Hoda together they host the “Today Show” for NBC. Another important fact to conclude this thought is that the Shrīmad Bhāgavatam, was never talking about mundane effort such as hosting a TV or radio show, keep in mind the book was written 1030 BC; yet the core was the self-effort is spiritual progress and not mundane goals.
So… If you never envied Kathie Lee Gifford, another celebrity, or anyone else, you must be going in the right direction, you must be very spiritual enlightened, so please help me because I hate Brad Pitt.
Post Script: 1) I do not hate Brad Pitt, but I thought it would be funny to end the essay with a joke, to show how pedantic envy is. Before God, my brother Brad Pitt has his own share of spiritual lessons and spiritual progress as all of us do.
Post Scritp 2) The Shrimad Bhagavatan original text was written in rhyming verses in the language of Sanskrit, therefore most of us will not enjoy the original beauty and cadence of its original verses, yet the essence remains through the ages. After the youth of Jesus was narrated in the Bible, neither his teenager years nor his adulthood is accounted for; he reappears in the Bible by the age of 30. Many scholars claim that he traveled to India and was exposed to the wisdom of Hindu literature; on the other hand, I hold that it really does not matter, since Jesus’ works derived from self-effort, because toddlers do not have to travel to Germany to learn Bach.