Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Do You Feel Bad For Celebs?

A few days ago I was working out at the gym when "VH1's All Access: Lindsay Lohan's Most Shocking Moments" came on the screen. I've expressed my love of bad television before (particularly in the context of the gym, where there's nothing more effective than a dose of Flava Flav to make time on the treadmill fly by), but this show just depressed me. As those un-funny VH1 comedians counted down Lindsay's most ridiculous and embarrassing public moments, I couldn't decide whether to feel pity for her or be disgusted by her immature and irresponsible behavior.

When I hear celebrities like Lindsay, Paris or Britney whining about how they can't get a moment of privacy from the paparazzi, I normally roll my eyes and think, "well maybe if you consistently wore underwear, tried to be sober more often, and stopped encouraging attention from the media, this wouldn't happen." For some reason, I have a hard time believing that when they visit the hottest clubs and restaurants and party with other stars, they think that they're not being watched and photographed. Besides, with all the money, fame, beauty and professional success someone like Lindsay Lohan has, it seems like getting followed by paparazzi isn't such a huge price to pay. And there are plenty of A-listers who manage (for the most part) to stay out of the spotlight and retain their privacy... why can't these girls do that too?
But watching this special, I began to think about something. For most people, all the stupid, embarrassing mistakes we make when we're young gain us attention only within a small group of people, and are generally forgiven and forgotten within a short amount of time. Maybe you had a little too much to drink and hooked up with a lame guy...you might have to undergo the "walk of shame" the next morning, but aside from some gossip and teasing from friends, you're able to learn your lesson and move on with no real consequences. If you're an A-list celebrity and you do this, your photograph is on the cover of every magazine and newspaper the following morning and you're forced to do damage control for weeks.

As a 21 year old, I can say with total confidence that young people are stupid. It doesn't matter if you're a Hollywood starlet or a regular kid in a small town, you're going to do dumb things because you just don't know any better, it's just part of growing up. And while those dumb things vary (having too much to drink once or twice is forgivable, doing coke regularly and bragging about it on camera is not), having your mistakes become America's water cooler fodder is a punishment no one deserves.

Still, I can't decide whether that's enough to excuse the ridiculous behavior of so many young celebs. You hear them crying and whining about how they can't get a moment of peace from the paparazzi, but they also defend their right to hit up Hollywood hotspots, party hard and hook up with other celebs without anyone documenting their actions. Of course, you can't have it both ways. While I can't defend the actions of the rabid photographers who stalk stars, I see a very simple solution to this privacy problem. I can almost guarantee that if Lindsay Lohan kicked her drinking and drug habit, avoided the party scene, dated non-famous guys and worked on building her very promising career, specials like "Lindsay Lohan's Most Outrageous Moments" wouldn't exist. She'd also gain respect as a talented, capable actress (which she is) and reverse the damage she's already done to her career.

I think the saddest part of it all is that we (perhaps secretly) prefer to watch celebrities fall hard than put their lives back together. A normal, healthy, responsible celebrity is a boring celebrity. The fascination with which we're glued to footage of Britney shaving her head, Lindsay or Kate Moss doing drugs, Alec Baldwin verbally abusing his daughter or Anna Nicole losing touch with reality suggests that we don't mind when a celeb's personal life becomes more entertaining than their movies or television shows. And it's unlikely that we care whether they get better, because celebrities are replaceable.

What do you think?


Allison Rae said...

I go back and forth with this often with my girlfriends. I'm far more sympathetic toward celebs than they are.

I cannot imagine how much of a flake, a jerk, and a horrible person I'd be portrayed as if I were followed 24/7 by cameras. We all say and do stupid stuff but it's not under the type of magnifying glass that they are under.

On the flip side of that, you need to check yourself. If you KNOW people are going to be watching you, you stand up straighter, act like you have sense, etc. We all do that and I feel these young women ought to as well.

I do think the line is absolutely crossed when it comes to celebs and their children. It's okay to snap shots of Brit Brit getting out of a car sans panties. It's not okay to swarm and chase her when she's carrying her son.

But, what do they do? We're in this crazy media, celeb-obsessed culture where nothing is ever enough. We want more more more....Do they give up their careers and social lives for privacy? I don't know the answer.

All I know is I've never seen Natalie Portman actin a fool... :)

Anne said...

Natalie Portman was going to be my example too. She does good movies and is in that same age group but manages somehow to stay completely out of the tabloids and off of VH1. Yes I'm sure we'd look stupid if cameras followed us all 24-7 too but it doesn't seem THAT hard to avoid those cameras if you really want to. You know the old saying, any publicity is good publicity? I think some of those girls need to realize that's not true.

knoxwhirled said...

I think there's a definite group of celebs--that would include Lindsay, Paris, Britney, etc.--who live for the camera. I can only assume that their lives are so empty and depressing they hunger attention, even if it's negative attention. They complain that they have no privacy, but really, with the partying, the panty-less outings... I don't believe them.

Scarier examples of wanting attention are: the tidal wave of anorexia among starlets and the adoption of babies from third-world countries.

ambika said...

They want the attention. Plain & simple. Lindsay Lohan said as much in a recent issue of Marie Claire (or Allure...not sure). I think what's more sad is that these women equate the paparizzi's attention with the adoration & affection of the general public. Natalie Portman's parents (sorry to harp on that old refrain but Dina Lohan is a mess and Paris & Britney's parents aren't any better) raised her with love & respect. And she's not the only one. Alexis Bledel, Lacey Chabert, Danica McKellar, Jessica Biel, and any number of young women have worked as actresses who transitioned to adulthood without making absolute idiots of themselves.

I think the amount of coverage of the Lohan/Hilton/Spears type of behavior makes it seem like those guys are the norm instead of the exact opposite. Yeah, I was young & stupid. I did dumb things, which my friends still occasionally tease me about. But flashing your crotch multiple times in a 1 month period is not normal, not for young people and NOT for Hollywood actresses. It's a plea for attention, and of the worst kind.

Erika said...

Meg, I need to stop by more often- I love your new look!

Icy said...

I don't feel sorry for celes, I feel bad for the young women who can't get their life together.

Catherine said...

I think celebrities need to remember that they've chosen to be in this field, and with that comes the ever looking public eye. That's the payoff.

I think the what you said makes sense. Celebrities should know already that if they date another celebrity then they won't really be able to have a real private relationship. Unless you know how to do it right like Jay Z and Beyonce. Although, I'm not sure if they are still together or whatnot, but I remember them being able to keep their relationship matters quite private. Anyway, these girls are only hanging out in the very trendy spots too as you've pointed out. So obviously if they want a private life, they have to be more secretive and obscure. They could practice some discretion.

Yes, I do feel bad for them to a certain extent. However, if they could just practice some restraint and moderation in their lives, I think things would be going better for them.

I do think the media is crazy though...Like VH1's Celebrity Eye Candy. The show is going a bit too far though I'm sure many just eat it up and love it.

I like icy's comment =)

Anonymous said...

Hello there, love this blog. Finally brave enough to comment!

The aforementioned starletts do, certainly, enjoy the attention, but not so much as they enjoy pretending they don't. Can we really judge them for this though? We love to watch, almost as much as we love to pretend we don't.
If we didn't, they wouldn't be there. There are a million good-looking girls out there, all gagging for the chance to compromise their dignity for a little fame.
We spend so much time comparing ourselves to them physically (to the detriment of our self-worth), perhaps by dragging them down (read: documenting their silly behavior in excruciating detail) we are able to strike a balance - "I may not be as skinny/blonde/tanned/gorgeous/etc as her but at least I'm not a wastrelle/a slut/unfaithful/a bad mother/..."ad nauseum.
So, bring on the badly behaved minkettes, who behave terribly so I don't have to. It has been said..."If you can't be a good example, you can certainly be a horrible warning".

The Glitterati said...

I agree with what Ambika said -- there's a lot to be said for the parenting (or lack thereof) that raised the starlet. The majority of these girls started in the biz early, and parents can do a lot to prepare their kid for the pressures of the papparazzi. Sort of like royalty in Europe -- princelings and princesses are trained on how to present themselves in public. Given that celebrities are the royalty-equivalent in North America, I think the same rules apply -- a smart parent will give their kid the same kind of PR training.

Of course, one could always fall back on statistics... maybe X% of ANY population of youths are bound to act crazy-stupid, and even with all other things being held equal, that percentage is going to manifest whether it be in Podunk USA or in Hollywood. Either way, I can't say I'm entirely unsympathetic to their plight.

PS: Meg, I tagged you in a meme in today's post! :)

shawn stanfield said...

Personally, I believe that society is placing too much thought on the whole celeb thing anyways. I stumbled onto this site looking for something else. The mere fact that yall are even talking about it shows that there's some sort of interest in the whole celeb scene. I'm not knocking you guys though don't get me wrong.

If people didn't pay attention to the life of a celebrity offscreen, there wouldn't be a need for the papaNazi pic takers, and a bunch of lazy assholes who scramble to get pictures of people and consume themselves with other people's lives wouldn't exist.They would be forced to take real jobs and get paid a wage like the rest of the country.
However,they do exist, and we the people have let this happen.We live in a country where we trash our president, and worship the ground of men who play a child's game.Where a person who is famous can't get drunk and say anything against anyone without public persecution.My personal views about our president doesn't matter. My views about professional atheletes doesn't either. More power to them for doing what they can do. As far as celebs are concerned, Anything to take the minds off what's going on overseas with our men and women getting killed everyday.
History shows us that War is a nessesary thing to control overpopulation of our planet. You may think I may be warped into this mindset, but you're entitled to your own opinions.You can be shocked over what celebs do, or you can just go on with your life and forget what they do offscreen.I for one won't lose a minute's sleep over Lindsey Lohan's life, unless of course I met her and she wants to hook up, then I'd be stupid not to say yes, but doubt that'll ever happen