The Great Celebrity Meltdown

Sunday, February 18, 2007
Over the past few years, a new trend seems to be sweeping the world of Celebrity - the public meltdown, the Crash and Burn, potential career-ending move. There's no shortage of examples to chose from either. Just in the past few weeks we've watched, sadly, as Anna Nicole Smith's life came to a tragic end as did Britney's need for shampoo. Before that, you could easily find many more examples, mostly amongst Hollywood's new generation of young celebrities.

In the past you rarely heard of celebrities acting out or airing their dirty laundry in public. Sure there was the occasional mention of a songstress entering rehab or the pinup boy of the moment going through a divorce but that was the extent. Now, we know many of the intimate details of Lindsay Lohan's father's criminal past, the reasons behind the Zellweger-Chesney divorce, and how much Nicole Ritchie weighs. Think back to Rock Hudson. While I wasn't alive during his hey-day, there was never any speculation in the media about his sexuality. It wasn't until he was dying of Aids that it was confirmed. Now, the media outs celebrities whether they want to disclose the information or not. Whatever happened to personal privacy?

Personal privacy. Some might argue that when you enter the public spotlight, whether as an actor, muscian, or politician, the idea of personal privacy goes out the window. Why is that? When did we suddenly decide that we needed to know every little detail about someone else's life? Seriously, will the world end if we don't know just how much time a certain starlet spent in rehab? Or whether a certain country singer is homosexual? Oh wait! I get it! Obviously knowing the reasons behind Britney's past few years of extremely bizarre behaviour will help us achieve world peace and getting Lara Flynn Boyle to eat a donut will solve the world hunger problem. Right, and pigs might fly out of my butt on Easter Sunday. Or was it our decision after all? Is it our desire to know these details or the media telling us that we need to know?

I'll freely admit to having an "enquiring mind". I've been known to buy the magazines: People, US, Hello!, and yes, I even read the Enquirer back in high school. I'll also admit that part of my interest is jealousy, for lack of a more appropriate word. Who doesn't want to have enough money to travel the world, wear beautiful things, and be pampered whenever you feel like it? I'm sure being told constantly how beautiful/talented/etc you are must become addictive after a while. There is also the satisfaction of watching these beautiful people fall from grace. Knowing that they go through the same things as the rest of us (marriage, divorce, failure, etc) is somewhat reassuring.

Whether we began the obsession with celebrity or it was a media fabrication to sell more magazines, we're partially to blame for Britney, Anna-Nicole and the rest. It's not the magazines telling these women (and men) that they must look perfect all the time, or that they have to weigh a certain amount, or they must have a perfect Hollywood marriage. It's our fault for buying the magazines, watching the entertainment shows, and buying into the image that we expect these celebrities to have. It's an especially big problem for young stars, we thrust all of this responsibility, money, and power upon them but don't teach them how to deal with it. They ARE dealing with the same things that we have/did but they're doing it under our prying eyes. Perhaps if they were allowed the privacy to live their lives as they wish, it wouldn't be quite so problematic for them.

We should try to remember that many of these young celebrities are growing up, becoming adults, in the public eye. While we might find Britney, Lindsay, and Paris' partying antics outrageous, I certainly should not be throwing stones. Sure, back in my day (god...I sound old...) I didn't hang with the same type of crowd that they did, but I definately had some embarassing moments which, if I was a celebrity, could be construed as being "career-ending". I once drove after drinking, knowing that I shouldn't but did it anyway. There was a party I threw where I ended up hanging out of a 16th storey window (no screen) while drunk on a mickey of tequila and if it hadn't been for the quick thinking of my fellow partiers I would have ended up as a puddle on the top of the parkade. I also ended up with rug burn on my stomach after being dragged down a hallway that night but that's another story altogether... We've all done things that we aren't proud of. And if those things were reported in papers/websites/television shows all over the world, how would each of us deal with the repurcussions? I have a feeling that we'd be acting out the same way as many of these stars are ... or worse.

While I make fun of Britney and many other celebrities quite often, I do feel sad for her and the others. It must seem to her (as it does to many of us) that she can do nothing right at the moment. An added problem common to many celebrities (I'm guessing) and those "lucky" people who win the lottery, is never knowing who your real friends are. Do they stick around for your winning personality and charming wit, or because you bought them a car last Tuesday? I only hope that someone steps in (where on earth is that mother you always see with her?) and offers her some much needed help, support, and love.


Tanya said...

too much too soon.

Wandering Coyote said...

Great post, Karen, and I agree with pretty much everything. There's also the distraction factor: the government I'm sure is thrilled more people know what's going on in the world of celebrity than what's being done out in the real world. I do my fair share of reading tabloids (at the gym; they make the treadmill go by really fast!) but in all honesty, I really think the industry needs them to make money. I'm glad I don't live under such scrutiny; I know I couldn't handle it.

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