Shame culture in any form is not helpful.
Celebrity marriages have become a joke in society. Almost to the point when two people get together we take bets on how long we think this one is going to last. With the recent and very public demise of Brad and Angelina’s relationship, it got me thinking about why we tend to fixate so much on celebrity relationships in the first place.
We all love a good scandal on any level; some juicy gossip or nationwide coverage of a politician’s personal life. Whether it helps us better identify with and understand each other, or if it’s simply a way for us to discharge shame onto each other, I couldn’t say. I’m not a sociologist. The fact of the matter is we love hearing about each others lives, especially if it’s negative. It’s inherent and irrevocable.
I have found myself cracking open a copy of People Magazine on more than one occasion in order to discover if this was ACTUALLY the end of Ben and Jen’s marriage, or finding out the details of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s “nasty” breakup (that was a more personal thing, as I needed to know how open to relationships Emma would be now that Andrew was out of the picture #brenden&emma4eva).
We all do it; we’re all curious and we’re all ready with a quick eyebrow raise and harrumph as we set the magazine carelessly back down on the rack. Too good to buy it, but not too good to skim it.
I found myself guilty of celebrity shaming recently, and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly confess, so thank you for being my interim priest, as I am not Catholic.
Let me start this off by saying I HATE the Star Wars prequels. It’s not a casual hate; it’s a real, active, putrid hatred. They literally offend me. I spend most of my free time actively pretending they aren’t real.
One of my largest criticisms of Episode I: The Phantom Menace was everything about how the character of Anakin was portrayed by 9 year old actor, Jake Lloyd. It didn’t matter that he was only a 9 year old kid, or that the dialogue he was given to work with wasn’t spectacular to begin with, all that mattered was how it impacted me. I was vocal and vehement.
I was most certainly not alone.
The world of Star Wars fandom has been very vocal on their feelings about Jake Lloyd as Anakin, though perhaps not AS much as they are about Hayden Christensen as Older Anakin, and Ahmed Best as the “beloved” character, Jar Jar Binks.
It’s 2016 and Jake Lloyd has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is in a criminal psych ward. His mugshot, a steely gaze with an outlaw moustache; fresh scrapes from the car accident he was in, is a far cry from the baby-faced Anakin Skywalker we all loved to hate.
It’s not totally fair to say we shamed him into it, because I don’t think that would be the whole story. Mental illness isn’t that cut and dry, and I would hate to devalue a complex issue to something so basic. However, he attributes being bullied by his peers because of Star Wars as a major contributing factor in ending his acting career prematurely. He also recounted in an interview with Scifitv.com that he finds watching The Phantom Menace to be a highly unenjoyable experience.
Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) also admitted in an interview with Jamie Stangroom from the Youtube Series, “These Are the Actors You’re Looking For,“ that he was quite hurt and surprised by the backlash from his role as Jar Jar. The only reason he took the role was because an all digital character was still a novelty, and he was excited to explore the medium.
While there is definitely a difference between criticising someone’s performance and judging their personal lives, I think the principle is the same.
It’s all about seeing someone in the public eye and thinking that it is fair to speak poorly of them, publicly, as if they somehow don’t have access to the internet.
For some reason, we think because we watch them on TV, somehow that gives us the authority to have a voice into their lives. We’re allowed to have an opinion about who they are, how they perform, and how they live their lives outside of the confines of their art.
Though, I am in no way, shape, or form a celebrity, the longer you’re around film people, the more people you encounter who know people. The more you meet and hear about celebrities, the more you learn the ugly truth.
They are only normal people; people with insane amounts of pressure put on them by the high profile nature of their art.
Frankly, I don’t understand how anyone can function under such a large amount of public scrutiny both professionally and personally.
I recently had a conversation with someone who worked as a celebrity’s assistant in L.A., and she would tell me stories of how celebrities are some of the most isolated people she’s met. They are forced to lead such insulated lives because of paparazzi and public attention (both positive and negative).
We love to hate on celebrities, and then shame them when their lives fall apart.
It’s easy to judge these people that we are so far removed from. If a friend of ours was getting a divorce, we would NEVER post a meme of their previous spouse to celebrate. That would be unfeeling and cruel. We would come alongside them and support them. We would listen to them, cry with them, and help them in whatever way we could.
Brad and Ang are people too, and like us they are not perfect. We have no right to sit in judgement over them, and ultimately it’s none of our business anyway.
However, since it’s in the public eye anyway, why don’t we come around and support them instead of being a part of shaming them.
They have computers, they can hear us.