It seems like every time I walk into a grocery store or open up a web browser, some form of celebrity gossip screams at me, “Kim Kardashian Pregnant by Another Man, Kanye West Furious!” or “Jessica Simpson Sells First Born for New Reality Show.”
What is it about celebrities that causes us not only to be involved in their lives, but also feel that we have the right to pass judgment?
My favorite example of this phenomenon as of late has to be Amanda Bynes.
In case you have forgotten who exactly she is, let me remind you. Bynes first registered on America’s radar with her reoccurring appearance on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy hit All That. Playing various memorable characters, she won her audience over with over-the-top humor and unrelenting passion for making people laugh. Bynes' next move was her very own eponymous show. The Amanda Show was just as popular as All That, featuring beloved characters such as the dancing lobsters and Judge Trudy.
Another Bynes-led television show, What I Like About You, soon followed, then came movies such as What a Girl Wants and She’s the Man, all showcasing the actresses' ability to make people burst out laughing at her silly faces and erratic voice changes. Yet after awhile, it seemed that Bynes dropped off the face of the planet. There were no more movies or TV shows, and Bynes was slowly forgotten by her fans.
This by itself is not a big deal. After all, fame is a strange disease that comes and goes as it pleases while you stand idly by. It just does its thing. One second you’re the king of the world and the next you’re forced to do Japanese car commercials. For some, fame can return, albeit in a different form. Bynes is a perfect example of this - she was out of the public eye and off the grid, and now, years later, she is back.
I wish she was back because of a movie promotion or because she created a charity for children with cancer. But alas, this is not so. She is back because from what it looks like, her life is spiraling out of control. Paparazzi are snapping away at her every move. Her tweets are analyzed on Buzzfeed. Her "selfies" are getting people to flip out on Twitter.
Now, I could spend the rest of this article commenting on Amanda’s new look, and I was so tempted to do just that, but I’ve come to realize that I'd be demonstrating exactly what's wrong with our culture. As a society, we pray on people who are down for a moment and exploit their issues.
Why? Why do we think it is ok for us to talk about celebrities who are going through hard times as if they aren’t humans?
I have a theory. Bear with me.
I don’t think we understand that celebrities are people. I think we as a society genuinely think that they are “characters" who don’t have feelings.
Personally, I have caught myself being a jackass when reading about the latest gossip in Hollywood. Like many others, I tend to feel that if you are a high caliber A-lister, the public's microscopic scrutiny of your life comes with the territory. You chose the career, so now you have to deal with the fall out. But looking at stories like Amanda’s, I can’t help but feel wrong for thinking this way. After all, she isn’t really doing anything on purpose. She was off the grid. It was the photos and the paparazzi that thrust her back into the spotlight. She didn’t ask for it.
We dehumanize celebrities because we assume they are just actors in life. We want to create a story around all of them. We want to see them come in contact with an obstacle, fail, try again and succeed. We basically want the stereotypical underdog storyline and we want it to be as hard as possible for them to achieve.
Don’t get me wrong. A lot of these celebrities totally deserve the things that happen to them. Many of them are just in the business for the fame and the attention. Yet we assume this is true for all actors, singers and reality TV stars. We never stop and think that maybe they just love their craft and this doesn’t give us the right to pry into their lives.
Celebrities are humans. They may be better looking, have a ton of money, and vacation in places you don’t even know exist, but they are just people, and thus deserve to be treated like human beings and not Saturday night entertainment. When you turn off the television, they still exist. They struggle and crack under the pressure. None of us own the rights to their lives. Even if they are Amanda Bynes.
Some may call Dasha Fayvinova a visionary, others just call her really pale. Whichever you prefer, know that she's 5'9 and from the Bronx. She loves writing and she loves comedy which just means she will take any headline and try to make it funny. She spent 5 years of her life talking to a camera and putting it on YouTube so she knows how to please people. Follow her on Twitter @thedasha92.