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We’re too Obsessed with the Personal Lives of Celebrities

by Kevin Li 3 years ago in celebrities
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In the Internet Age, we just can't seem to get enough of our favourite celebrities

For once, Trump isn’t the most talked about person since his election in 2016. That title belongs to one of the most acclaimed musicians of the 21st century, and possibly even the successor to Trump (if he really does run for President in 2024), Kanye West. However, the conversation around Kanye, and many other celebrities, highlights an idea prominent in Internet Age: we’re too obsessed with the personal lives of celebrities.

Since Kanye’s return to Twitter and the public spotlight earlier this year, various media outlets have been feeding off his every claim, only adding fuel to the fire of his already controversial comments. Their obsession with Kanye’s every action, and speculation over the meaning and motives behind his comments and lyrics, is unhealthy. On his latest album ‘ye’, Kanye paints a beautiful tribute to his wife Kim Kardashian for her loyalty to her husband when he was acting erratically from a ‘high’. He described this mental state on Jimmy Kimmel Live! as when he is ‘ramped up’ as a result of his bipolar disorder. Kanye shows on the song ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ how he is grateful for the fact that she ‘wouldn’t leave’ even when he ‘told her she can leave me now’. He dedicates the song to ‘every [...] female that stuck with they dude through the best times [and] the worst times’. The idea behind the song seems to be quite the contrary to what the media portrays Kanye to be. While the media makes him out to be someone who is deranged, Kanye constantly tries to right this false perception of him by showing how one of his core values is love, and ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ is just one way in which he conveys this.

To most, the lyrics from ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ would seem to be romantic, and a sweet gesture from a loving husband to his loyal wife. For us, the listeners and fans, we can see how Kanye is showing his appreciation for loving wife and acknowledging her for her support. Would it then be right for us to claim that Kanye’s lyrics are ‘disturbing’, as if we knew the truth behind their relationship, and portray him in the worst light possible? Aimee Cliff, from Dazed magazine, seems to think so. Cliff claims that Kanye’s lyrics on ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ in fact glorify the ‘gross narrative of possession-as-romance’. She goes on to argue how the relationship between Kim and Kanye is not a healthy one and infers that Kim is ‘a long-suffering wife’. Her most striking comment, however, is her claim that Kanye is making ‘a love story out of Stockholm Syndrome’. In doing so, she uses the lyrics on ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ to claim that Kanye is somewhat of a captor and has taken Kim as hostage, forcing her to remain with him against her wishes - essentially what Stockholm Syndrome would look like in a marriage.

Cliff has crossed the boundary of delving into the personal life of celebrities. She’s made claims that are arguably controversial about Kim and Kanyes’ relationship, as if she knows some sort of hidden truth that the rest of us are unaware of. Is it right for Cliff to scrutinise Kanye and Kim to the extent where she portrays their relationship to be one-sided? Why must we be so obsessed with the personal lives of celebrities? We’ve become so drawn into the private lives of icons we both idolise and despise to the point that we are even making claims about their personal life without any solid evidence. We are talking about them as if we know them personally.

It’s not just artists like Kanye West who are scrutinised. We’ve become obsessed with the majority of celebrities from a wide range of industries. Just about every female actor or musician has been subjected to numerous questions about their body image. Take Jennifer Lawrence, for example. She had many critics for her role in The Hunger Games, but not for her acting. Instead, people were quick to criticise her body, saying it wasn’t fit for the role of a character who had been starved. In her review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis claimed that Lawrence’s ‘seductive, womanly figure makes for a bad fit for a [movie] about a people starved into submission’. Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter went one step further to say that Lawrence displayed ‘lingering baby fat’ in some scenes of the film. These criticisms of Lawrence highlight how we are more engrossed in her body image rather than her actual acting. Many have concluded that as none of the male actors came under scrutiny for their weight, the comments on her weight were sexist. The idea that we are too obsessed with the personal lives of celebrities is emphasised by the sexist nature of these comments. They show how we have taken it upon ourselves to judge others for their body image, emphasizing how misguided public opinion can become a demeaning force.

Our obsession with celebrities can be unhealthy as it causes us to lose sight of their talent. Often, the media will asks celebrities about trivial things such as their relationship status rather than about the latest film they starred in or their most recent album they produced. By focusing on their private lives, something of little importance to the vast majority of us who don’t even know these people personally, we forget that these people have dedicated their lives to perfecting their craft and are some of the most talented in their industry.

Athletes also come under the spotlight frequently. LeBron James, arguably the greatest basketball player to have ever played the game, is one of the most heavily scrutinised professional athletes. After a 124-91 blowout win over the Denver Nuggets in 2016, where LeBron recorded his 41st triple-double (double digits in points, assists and rebounds, which is not an easy feat), he was asked about unfollowing the Cavs on Twitter by the media rather than his heroics in the game. Lengthy articles were written on James unfollowing his own team. Both sports analysts and fans alike speculated about what this could mean for his future, or what his motives where. It seems that his basketball talents, for which what James is defined by, has been completely forgotten. Once again, this is just another example of us being too obsessed with the private lives of celebrities to the point where we forget about the abilities of them and take it for granted.

It seems only natural that in a time where social media rules that we’ve become so obsessed with the private lives of the people that we idolise. A possible explanation for the reason behind this is that we may think celebrities live better lives than us, and so we’d rather live our lives vicariously through them. We may feel as if our own lives are boring and uninteresting compared to theirs, leading to an obsession of these celebrities and their fast-paced, extravagant and sometimes controversial lifestyle. The danger of this is that we often will sacrifice our own well-being in our vacuous pursuit of every single detail about these celebrities.

At the end of the day, our obsession with the private lives of celebrities is unhealthy and detrimental. For ourselves, it is unhealthy as we become too absorbed in someone else’s life rather than focusing on our own. For the celebrities, it is detrimental as they will face constant speculation about themselves from millions of people they don’t even know. However, it can be justified as it is only human nature for us to want to know every little detail about those that we admire. In fact, there’s even a term for this: celebrity worship disorder. Celebrity worship disorder, or CWS, was first coined by James Chapman in a Daily Mail article back in 2003, who was referring to a celebrity worship scale created by American and British psychologists the previous year.

There’s just something about these celebrities that we become so attached to, and we want to know more about their day to day lives, their values and morals and how they’ve become someone we admire so much. But at what point is the line to be drawn where we are violating the privacy of these celebrities? At the end of the day, they are no different to you and I, yet we treat them as if they’re characters out of a novel or movie as we analyse and try to make sense of their actions, often disregarding the fact that they have real emotions and human needs, like us.

So if there’s some famous person that you’re obsessed with, it’s understandable. There’s no need to feel embarrassed. It’s only human nature for us to be curious. Just keep in mind that they’re humans too.


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Kevin Li

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