No, I'm talking about celebrities and their stardom, and the way the public perceives that stardom.
I recently wrote an article about my perception of Sharon Needles at a recent show of hers, and I was blown away when Divina De Campo (the opening act of the night) gave me feedback on it. I stand by a lot of my opinions from the piece, which you can read if you take a look at my profile, but she also gave me some serious food for thought and I'm here to chew it over for the world to see. I'm eating with my mouth open. Okay, I'll stop with the food metaphors now...
Divina reminded me that while we may feel that we know a person inside out because we've seen a lot of them on our screens, we really only see what the person themselves want us to see, and more importantly, what the editing room thinks we should. This is where I was reminded of icebergs, these chunks of freshwater ice that we see as beautiful decorations in a seascape photograph, but we only see about 10% of the iceberg itself. 90% of an iceberg is hidden below the surface of the water, and what appears to be a smooth and serene piece of frozen water can be huge, jagged, and complex underneath.
I thought I knew what to expect from Sharon Needles because I had seen her on RuPaul's Drag Race, but that was my mistake - not only because all I had done was look at her surface, but because to quote Divina "people are people", and they change and grow over time. I discounted the fact that there was another 90% of Sharon hidden by editing that person would likely come to light, and admittedly, I'm not really a huge fan of hers now that I've seen some of that, but again, I should have realised that behind the performer there is a person, and when a camera isn't on her she has the freedom to show the parts of her an editor may have left on the cutting room floor.
Despite the fact that the Sharon she chose to show us wasn't to my liking, I will admit that I was wrong to assume I would be seeing the exact Sharon I had watched on Drag Race - on top of my iceberg analogy, human change is not only possible, but to me, an inevitability when you are truly living, (not just existing), and Sharon is obviously living her life to the fullest. She seems to have evolved into a different version of herself, but we must accept the possibility she hasn't evolved, just become more comfortable with showing more than 10% of herself.
This is a rule that I think we must strive to apply to all reality TV contestants, not just Drag Race queens, because it will help us to see them for who they really are - and prevent the disappointment I felt when I realised Sharon wasn't who I, and many Drag Race fans, thought she was.
If we follow the Iceberg Rule when we watch TV then we can make the effort to try and see who someone is when they aren't being edited and directed, and the star in question will only have fans that appreciate them for who they want to be seen as. They will have more loyal and loving fans because of it, and we won't feel let down when we realise that maybe we only liked the edited version of that person.
I may still feel disappointed in who Sharon has turned out to be, but I don't place the blame on her now, and I've learned a lesson in the benefits of skepticism when watching TV from now on.
Thank you, Divina, for reminding me that you are all icebergs - both in your physical beauty, and in your complexity as people.