With social media, tell-alls and TMZ, we know more intimate details about celebrities than ever before. They aren’t just faces on magazines and Wheaties boxes — they’re people who take selfies, eat bread and binge watch the same Netflix shows we do.
Perhaps it’s this level of basic relatability that has us taking personal offense at celebrities doing or saying things we don’t agree with. We stride in atop our high horses, wielding our WebMD degrees in psychologyand unleash a series of outraged tweets no one needed nor asked for.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t speak up when Tila Tequila posts a picture of herself performing the Nazi salute. But we tend to make character analyses of celebrities when we have, at best, a caricature-level understanding of them.
Make no mistake: We’re still glancing at celebrities through a hole in the wall. Now the opening has just grown a little wider, and they can see us watching them.
Celebrities don’t owe us anything beyond common courtesy if they pass us on the street, and that’s all we owe them in return. However, just as when you’re walking down the street, if you see someone who is doing or saying something harmful, you are certainly within your right to interject and attempt to quell abhorrent behavior.
Why is it that we’ll skewer Kanye West for saying if he’d voted in the past election, it would have been for Trump, but we’ll ask our Trump-voting uncle to pass the potatoes at Thanksgiving without so much as an eye roll?
These days we expect to see “Kanye West” and “rant” share a headline, so his choice words delivered above thousands of people probably surprised relatively few, and our response was equally unsurprising. We typed up the requisite number of outraged tweets then continued about our days unbothered. Meanwhile, West cancelled the rest of his tour and checked himself into the UCLA medical center.
Now don’t think I’m crashing the #KanyeIsOverParty too hard. It’s true that celebrities’ words carry consequences, but it’s important to remember that even without millions of adoring fans, ours do, too.
Though we will probably never know the celebrities we admire as the people they truly are, they are people nonetheless. And unfortunately, people frequently disappoint us.
But sometimes it’s better to talk through life’s disappointments with the people we love rather than tear down those we love to look at.