"Tall poppy syndrome" is not contagious—it’s not even a disease.
The term “tall poppy” dates back more than a century. The Dublin Review, published in 1860, uses the term to describe individual achievement being sacrificed to promote social equality. Referring to the political climate in France, the author writes, “…it was not the intention of their Legislature merely to cut down every tall poppy, but to reduce every flower in the garden to the same proportions.”
The Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms tells us that the term may date farther back—much farther back. According to the Dictionary, Tarquin, the king of Rome in the 6th century, supposedly “struck off the heads of poppies as a gruesomely graphic demonstration of the way in which the important men of a captured city should be treated.” Ouch.
Rebel Wilson probably didn’t want anyone’s heads chopped off. She probably did want to be spared public shaming just because she’s famous.
Ayto, John. Tall poppy. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Oxford English Dictionary, online edition. Oxford University Press. http://bit.ly/1F9ZuBJ (subscription required, accessed May 24, 2015).