Celebrity culture is a funny thing, isn't it? We've all probably got favourite bands, sportspeople and movie stars. Most of us will admire, look up to or be a teensy bit jealous of them, and in all honesty, who could blame us? They've often got the looks, the lifestyles, and in most cases (ahem) the talent. However, whilst the majority of us are savvy enough to realise that these people are just PEOPLE after all, there are definitely those who take things a step too far, into the dangerous realms of obsession.
Anyone who saw the aptly named Channel 4 Documentary last year, 'Crazy About One Direction', will know what I'm talking about. Some of the people on that show were scary… potentially bordering on dangerous. Whilst it may be funny to laugh at, or dismiss, the extremes some will go to feel a part of these young guys’ world, (perhaps due to their wealth and profession), if you take a step back, you can see that glorified stalking DOES have a line – yet it’s all too often crossed.
Whilst it’s not a crime to enjoy, appreciate, even feel ‘love’ for a person in the public eye, there have been some very worrying trends emerging. Fans get very defensive, protective and even make death threats against those who don’t share their views, as this magazine found out. Iggy Azalea recently announced that she’d had to stop crowd surfing at her own shows due to sexual assault, and for this, there is no excuse. On Twitter, when certain artists are caught by the media doing something ‘wrong’, fans have been known to react in outlandish ways – even, for some unknown logic, by hurting themselves. Some things are a step too far. There is one theory that celebrity culture inadvertently exploits the vulnerable and exposes deeper issues such as mental illness, which by all means needs addressing more openly.
In saying that, there are also ways to show in a respectful manner that you DON’T like somebody. Shaming the choices of young people (that be honest, probably aren’t much worse than stuff that goes on in your student flat), as in the case of Miley Cyrus, is also borderline behaviour.
What about when things just get plain distasteful? The recent death of Peaches Geldof was tragic, by all accounts. Understandably a lot of us, especially of student age living in and around student accommodation, felt we could relate. We, too, are young and free and probably feel like we have the world at our feet, like this article explains. But when does public ‘mourning’ become too much? I think we genuinely have to look at ourselves when we’re outwardly judging and speaking ill of a young woman who leaves behind two young children. By all means, have an opinion, aim for a different set of morals, if you choose, but leave your unwanted thoughts out of sight of the lives of those you’ve never met at their most difficult time.
I’ve spent some time personally around the music scene, and one thing I’ve undoubtedly noticed is a culture of people wanting to feel like they belong. It’s totally natural, and acceptable, and yet awkward and embarrassing at the same time, when it imposes on the ‘famous’ people they idolise. Even by association, people suddenly want to talk to you, simply because they think you, too, are ‘important’, and soon change when they realise that you aren’t. It’s odd.
One of my favourite bands have had line-up changes recently, and I’ve seen fans argue, at length, about the politics of such a decision. That’s fine, and I encourage debates. But when things turn nasty and they’re claiming to know the ‘truth’ of a given situation, I just laugh. Unless you’re actually a part of these people’s lives, and they start popping up here at Liberty Living, you’ll never know – and gossip just isn’t fair.
Posted on 24th June 2014 by Claire L.
Claire Louise Sheridan lives and works in Peterborough. She recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication Studies from the University of Liverpool.