Why do we demand so much from celebrities’ personal lives?
Disclaimer: this essay is a depiction of the writer’s own thoughts, experiences and observations, and in no way reflects the opinions of the publication on which it is shared, nor does it reflect the opinions of the publication’s parent company or fellow businesses.
We live in an era where celebrities are no longer mysterious people on TV; they are wholly relatable people with personas. They vlog, post TikToks and dump on Instagram like regular people, giving everyone else a peek into their lives off-camera. And it’s cute! It’s humanizing! Because they also have their off days and good days, which provide them with better avenues to connect with fans, supporters and broader audiences.
But to be completely honest, celebrities don’t owe us anything outside of that. (This doesn’t count as seeking accountability when necessary.) They already give us enough public avenues to perceive them and shower them with love and adoration, such as concerts, mall shows, fan meetings, social media and whatnot. At the end of the day, their celebrity status also counts as a job—they can’t always be that person 24/7. So they go out, enjoy time off and take breaks like normal human beings—we’re all about that work-life balance boundaries, you know?
On seeing them in public
On the days I find myself scrolling through celebrity news, I have realized that how some people approach public figures hasn’t exactly improved. Some people get upset when celebrities refuse them photos, whether in the middle of work or on their days off, which often results in hasty assumptions and name-calling. When certain folks don’t take no for an answer and badger them endlessly, it can also result in a photo that doesn’t make it look social media-worthy or a bad experience for all parties involved. And then it will lead to some assumptions about their personalities and more merciless name-calling.
After refusing to take photos at the Harry Styles concert, Bela Padilla was recently subjected to some uncalled-for vitriol. It turns out that a couple of fans continued to ask even when she said no. At this point in the afternoon, she was already bonding with some of her non-celebrity friends. She says it best in a now-deleted Tweet, “When you say, ‘Can I please have a photo with you?’ You give me room to say no.” Which is true! When these celebrities run on personal time, they have a right to set boundaries. This means prioritizing keeping to themselves and asserting their right not to interact, not pose with photos and, most importantly, putting those who can’t respect their boundaries in their place.
So when you see a celebrity minding their own business outside, read the room before asking them for a photo. Good for you if they accept, but don’t hold it against them when they refuse.
On their personal lives
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from more than a decade of fangirl-hood, it’s that I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, no matter how much content I get. As a result, I entirely have no say in what they choose to do, and it’s all up to me if I still support them after such life-changing and fangirl commitment-altering decisions. In the case of dating news, I’ve supported my favorite stars through a couple of publicly-announced significant others, two whole “my celebrity crush is now a father” announcements and a load of girlfriend/boyfriend rumors. Did I like most of their significant others? Not really. Did I throw a fit? Not at all. So I never understood why people had to rally on social media to say that they hated these celebs’ significant others or how they got together.
There’s no harm in giving a shit and having your opinions and feelings about your favorite celebrities. By all means, air all of these out! But there’s also no merit in raining on their parade, most especially when you weren’t there to see the whole picture. We don't know anything, whether it’s the Hailey Bieber vs. Selena Gomez tea or everyone’s assumptions on how James Reid and Issa Pressman got together. Many of the comments thrown at all parties are held up by so-called overlapping timelines, blind items and assumptions that internet sleuths put together—not people who have been there since day one.
Their relationship is their relationship. If that was built on something negative, which we don’t entirely know, that’s on them. Their issues are their issues. The public can say what’s on their minds and turn it into entire conversations between friends, but they can’t entirely police what they fully don’t know. And to personally attack people based on assumptions? We all hate being on the receiving end of that; why do it to others? Now, if these celebrities publicly act out in a way that deserves to be called out, I’m all for it. But going with unverified facts as the basis of the hate we throw isn’t cool.
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Time in the spotlight, follower counts and success shouldn’t diminish the fact that these people are still human beings. These people deserve respect, especially when they set clear boundaries between their public and private lives. Could there be cases wherein celebrities owe us something? Possibly, like misusing their platform to spew problematic things, yes. But if it’s their personal lives that doesn’t endanger many people? Why do we need to care?
Art Macky Arquilla