I’ve always been fascinated by the connections we make with celebrities. We feel so bonded to them that when celebrity couples break up, we pick sides. When a celebrity is injured or seriously ill, we worry about them. If they pass away, we mourn their loss. And when they make mistakes, we judge them and become angry at them. We go through all of these emotions over people that we have never met.
Celebrities often say that they are grateful and humbled by fan support when they go through things like break ups and illnesses. Imagine going through a break up and having hundreds of thousands of people in your corner. It would be a fantastic feeling. But what about when they do something wrong. How would it feel to have hundreds of thousands of people judging you?
Recently I was having a conversation with Prime Parents Club founder Jackie about Britney Spears. I defend Britney time after time because I feel like I grew up with her. I made mistakes just like her. While my mistakes may have not been on the same level as Britney’s mistakes, I would be equally as horrified if they were caught on camera and people were judging me based only on my mistakes. And while I firmly believe that people should let Britney Spears learn from her mistakes and grow up and become a better person for what she went through, what about the celebrities who make mistakes that hurt other people?
Since I am always talking about celebrity gossip, my step-dad asked me what I thought about Chris Brown’s tattoo when it hit the news. I obviously thought it was ridiculous to tattoo what appears to be a battered woman on his neck. I pointed out that if he had just kept his head down and been quite and not, ya know, thrown a chair into glass windows, maybe people would have moved past what happened. Eminem was accused of hitting his wife Kim. Eventually most people made the decision that they didn’t have to like Eminem as a person, or what may or may not have happened in his past, to respect his talent and his music. My step-dad’s response was “Chris Brown doesn’t want us to forget.”
Then Chris Brown showed up to a Halloween party dressed as a terrorist and the backlash started up again. The more I thought about my step-dad’s response, the more I think he’s right. I think Chris Brown got so tired of being the bad guy and trying to fight that image that he gave up and gave in. Why fight against the wave when it’s easier to just ride it, right? But the whole thing is really kind of sad when you think about it. What if he really was trying to learn from his mistakes and be a better person and move on, and we broke him. What if we broke his spirit? What if our constant judgment affected him in a way that none of us imagined?
Look I’m not defending anything he has done. But what if Chris Brown was your son? You would have been horrified at what he did. But wouldn’t you tell him that things will get better? That he needs to push forward and learn to be a better man? Wouldn’t you defend him to people who didn’t really know anything about except for the worst thing he ever did in his life?
Why do we judge celebrities so much harsher than we judge our own friends and family? And don’t tell me it is because they are in the public eye and have to set a good example (etc.). I’m talking about that feeling you get when you’re sitting alone at your computer reading the news and you have an emotional response to what a celebrity has done. Maybe next time you read a story about something a celebrity did wrong, stop and ask yourself, “what would I say to my child if they did this?” and “what would I do if people made these judgments about my kid?” You might be surprised how differently you see things.
[Image: By Eva Rinaldi (Chris Brown) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]