The concept of celebrity and idolization has always been a tricky one to balance. For the longest time, I have looked up to singers and have used their music as therapeutic measures for all of life’s events. I have also used their experiences, expressed through songs, as a way to find strength and wisdom in times of need. Sounds desperate right… and is that the problem?
Did celebrities ask to be “looked up too?” Did celebrities sign up to be scrutinized when they acted a way we as a person do not agree with? Probably not.
This past week on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I saw someone I have come to love and “look up too”, Erika Jayne, really just go in deep on someone and have no remorse for her actions. Then she went on twitter and continued the spiral of hurt, and was seemingly trying to dig to find people who supported her actions.
Erika almost did this to herself. Erika Jayne has been a way to prove to women over 45 that life isn’t over, and you shouldn’t give up on yourself or your sexuality (she’s expressed this, multiple times on various platforms). Erika Jayne has also been about “zero fucks given” and “let’s dance and have a good time”. To me Erika Jayne encompassed self-assuredness and a deep understanding of oneself. Seeing Erika express herself in that manner on TV and then on Twitter is nothing close to what I believe Erika stands for.
This post is really about the question, “did they want ALLLLLLL of this?” Did they want the fame, the fortune, the idolization, the critiques, the backlash, the love, the accountability?
Did Erika expect to get the response she’s received since that episode aired and her Twitter went off the rails? Probably not; due in part to the amazingly positive response she’s gotten for three years now. The TV viewing public loves her. But she’s being called out on her actions and people are quick to say, “I’m over you”, “I’ve lost so much respect for you” and start the #ErikaJayneIsOverParty.
This concept of fame and idolization also lends itself to what has occurred to Taylor Swift. Taylor and her PR team did this to themselves. They presented her as a package; which I completely understand. Consumers want an experience; and Taylor Swift is definitely an experience. When things started to get blurry and less than perfect, the whole Taylor machine started to collapse. Granted, the excitement was still there when “Look What You Made Me Do” was released (Who advised this song as a single? Fire them). The excitement was there when Reputation was released (over a million sold in America alone in week 1). Taylor, however, became the butt of every joke. Everyone scrutinized her for everything she did. She didn’t speak out against Trump, so she’s an evil Nazi-sympathizing queen. She went after Kim and Kanye and became a “snake” when she lost that battle. She has no girlfriends, etc. etc. The narratives she’s very coy to associate with and vocally go against. The list legitimately goes on simply depending on the day.
Did Taylor want all of this? Yes, but to a certain degree. She wanted to be successful, and I’m sure it felt amazing to be loved by virtually everyone in America. Did she want to become a punchline? No. Did she want everyone scrutinizing her political and social values? No. She’s a fucking popstar… but people use “she has a platform” excuse to go after her.
This is when we as people need to really look “in” and ask ourselves when our idolization and adoration become too much. But on the other side of the token, celebrities wouldn’t be celebrities without the attention of the masses. Social media is part if this disaster, and TV, paparazzi and videos of every kind leave trails of everything these celebrities do. To top it off, social media also gives everyone a voice and a platform to be opinionative without a filter.
Will this issue ever be solved? No. We’re in too deep and celebrities are basically brands now. The success of their brand does not exist without the support of their fans. Essentially this begs the question, do they still want all of this?