Idolising celebrities: danger and accountability

Written by Amy Britton

Money and fame. It seems to be what everyone strives for. But being a celebrity has its faults and so does being a fan. We often put celebrities on such a high-up pedestal that they no longer seem like humans. We believe that everything they do and everything that they own is better than what we have. Young people strive to become them and want to gain the same level of stardom. Not only can this idealisation of celebrities’ lives harm those who view it as unattainable, it is also damaging to the celebrities who, as a result of social pressure, are unable to make mistakes.

Photo by Anthony Delanoix via Unsplash

With the rise of social media, celebrities cannot escape the scrutiny of others. So-called stars are often dragged for leaving the house without makeup, an activity that most of us have taken part in after a hangover. The pressure to look perfect all the time must be an incredibly heavy weight on the shoulders of celebrities. It can be agreed that one of the biggest issues with tabloid journalism is its chastisement of celebrities and their weight. As soon as a celebrity’s body changes slightly, lifestyle magazines are quick to pick apart their faults and how to prevent them. This is obviously immensely damaging to a celebrity’s mental health but also to fans and readers of these articles, who already feel inferior. Many feel that their hate is justified due to the fact that celebrities have more money and followers than they do. Others argue that this is what comes with stardom. Hate is a part of the job. What people often forget is that celebrities are humans too. They deal with similar problems to us and can be damaged by the words that are spread on the internet. 

Another huge debate that is taking the internet by storm at the moment is accountability. The idea of cancel culture has recently had a surge with multiple celebrities being called out for their past problematic behaviour. However, there are so many questions surrounding cancel culture. What counts as an offence criminal enough that a celebrity should be cancelled forever? Do we allow celebrities to come back from their mistakes? Cancel culture seems to take away the room for celebrities to grow and make mistakes. We cannot live believing that celebrities are completely perfect, as this creates a suffocating atmosphere in which celebrities have to watch everything that they say and do. When a celebrity does something problematic, should we tear them down immediately or wait for an explanation? What we often forget is that a celebrity is essentially a brand. Famous people have assistants and managers that control their image and censor what they can publicly say. Companies can opt for the ‘let’s hope it blows over’ tactic, forcing their brand ambassador to stay silent, which can be more detrimental than confessing and apologising. 

Photo by Ethan Haddox via Unsplash

On the other side of this, fans can sometimes be so infatuated with a celebrity that they will ignore their mistakes. It is incredibly important that we do highlight the problematic behaviours of celebrities. Whilst ‘cancelling’ them may take things too far, celebrities can use their platforms to express regret for their past actions and show an understanding of the importance of education about these behaviours. Some fans will dedicate their entire lives to these celebrities and end up needing them to get through difficult times in their lives. This can lead to an unhealthy dependence on these celebrities, even though they struggle in the same ways that we do. This level of ‘othering’ often causes celebrities to ‘other’ themselves even further. This can be seen through the breaking of lockdown rules by celebrities, who seem to think that the virus doesn’t affect them. 

I think that it is clear that idolising celebrities can cause various problems that harm both the famous and the ‘normal’. The constant criticism that stars face damages not only their mental health but also the health of the fans that already feel inferior to them. The debate surrounding cancel culture surely will continue and educating celebrities on their problematic behaviour is essential to helping improve everyone’s understanding of how to be a better ally. Overall, it is important that we are kinder to each other when pointing out faults and dismantle the idea that celebrities are more alien than us. 

Featured images courtesy of Unsplash. No changes have been made to these images.

An aspiring journalist studying History at The University of York.

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