The Cult of Celebrity has existed for a very long time. Many years back, people strived to find out more about influential people such as Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, and Elizabeth I of England. Today these leaders still awaken curiosity and even moments of empathy for their stories. Even with a vast collection of archeological evidence, modern day people will never get a glimpse of their true personalities even if they appear relatable in many ways.
There’s the illusion that a public figure’s personal quirks are revealed after listening to some interviews, watching a number of their clips, or even meeting them in-person. Is the artist impatient, witty, or rather stiff? Maybe some personal accounts can provide some insights regarding how someone acts, yet their complexity cannot be fully understood by outsiders. These strangers may not seem like strangers anymore. Only so much can be seen or read.
Celebrities receive a daily amount of hate and support overwhelmingly from people who don’t know them personally. A social media movement known as #FreeBritney gained attention in 2020. Since 2008, pop superstar and former Mickey Mouse Club cast member Britney Spears has been under a court-appointed conservatorship for odd behavior that resulted from a mental breakdown. The star’s conservator is her father, Jamie Spears, and he can make decisions regarding her finances and personal assets. In April 2019, an anonymous person who claimed that he was part of the law firm that handled the conservatorship left a voicemail on a podcast called Britney’s Gram. He revealed concern for the singer’s lack of legal control.
In recent years, calls for the serious treatment of mental health has become a common talking point among social media influencers. New perspectives can be taken with the release of documentaries that show the tragic moments of former childhood stars such as Judy Garland, Macaulay Culkin, and more recently, Amanda Bynes, who like Britney also suffered a very public mental breakdown. When watching such documentaries there is this sense of frustration for just how these very young people were mistreated or straight up physically abused by their legal guardians.
Based on how much is seen through photographs or video, many people today will see Britney’s vulnerability in a variety of different ways. They empathize with this someone they will never know personally. For this reason, the #FreeBritney movement to gain mainstream attention. When the star shaved her head back in 2007, it seemed as though the norm was to mock her rather than to see that collection of emotional outbursts as a cry for help. Unfortunately the ugly hate is here to stay until the world explodes for whatever the reasons will be. Actions that result from hate can be extremely traumatizing on both sides.
Many people claim to know a person’s wants and needs based on a few small interactions, video recordings, and photographs. Judgment can be a dangerous contributor to disinformation. Someone’s well being can be assessed based on their poor hygiene alone. When there is someone who appears unwell, sometimes talking can help a lot. Although this may sound a bit idealistic, the people who may be in a bad place have the potential to make the world a better place. The famous artists who tackled through abuse and trauma still inspired others through their art.
Applying the binary of good and evil does a good job of simplifying the outside world, especially when looking at someone else’s conflict. We can sometimes see who is more at fault and who the bad guy is. Humans are complex as they often fall into a grey area when it comes to morality.
The fans of haters of public figures will act accordingly based on which sides they have picked, causing their perceptions to be blurred. Once yesterday tabloids are recycled away and the eyewitness reports are mostly forgotten, the public figures and everyday people will continue to live their lives. Hopefully none of them will not forget about their true selves. There will be many others who will tell them who they are.