Yesterday while I was waiting for my daughter during her ballet class, a well-known celebrity who is currently on a popular TV show walked in to pick up his daughter. Not so unusual, living in LA, but I wouldn’t have even noticed if another mom had not said something. He looked kind of bloated, his skin was blotchy and he was wearing a shlumpy sweatsuit. He was perfectly pleasant to the others in the room, cooing at babies and making jokes, but I found myself looking forward to telling my friends about how awful this guy looked in real life.
As I was on my way home, I realized that what at first seemed like a perfectly normal reaction was really quite a nasty impulse. Why should I expect him to make himself look good (put on make-up?!?) when all he was doing was picking up his daughter. To be fair, he could have said the same negative things about my own clothes and appearance. I decided not to reveal his identity here, as tempting as it is, because I realized that he should be allowed to have a private life.
This got me to thinking about our society’s love/hate relationship with celebrities. While sports figures, musicians and Hollywood types are considered by their fans to be role models, heroes and generally amazing people, there are even more people who delight in seeing those same celebrities brought down a notch. Whether it’s our fascination with Britney Spears’ public meltdown, Mel Gibson’s drunken ranting or pictures of Jessica Simpson’s cellulite in the supermarket tabloids, we crane our necks for a glimpse of a chink in the perfectly polished armor worn by a celebrity.
Why is it so important for us to see an imperfection, to get proof that actors/models/singers are only human? Does it make us feel better about ourselves, how we look, how much money we make? The Dove Evolution video went a long way toward taking away some of the mystique behind beautiful models, and so perhaps we want to be reassured that the person behind the make-up and airbrushed photos is no better than ourselves.
What do you think? Why do paparazzi get thousands of dollars for pictures of celebrities going about their daily lives? Why was Britney’s rehab status updated on the news daily? Is it schadenfreude or are we just a bunch of insecure celebrity worshipers?
And if the celebrity associated with your cause goes from being loved to hated, you have a big problem.
Photo Credit: Heartdisk