Sometimes, it is a good thing. We have used our hunger for knowledge to further and better ourselves. Time and time again, ignorance has always equalled hate and discord and therefore, we plod on, occasionally getting it hopelessly wrong, but we persevere as a species.
Then we take the whole curiosity thing too far – especially when it comes to other members of our species that we do not even know.
There’s always been a cult of celebrity, the modern era of it beginning in the 18th century with figures like the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish. Newspapers have churned out caricatures forever, depicting the rich and powerful in various unfortunate ways.
Nowadays, this is on an utterly hysterical, overblown scale.
People love the pantomime of it: the villains, the hero’s, the pretty princesses and the rebels. People boo, hiss, shout and applaud, doing so these days on mediums like Twitter or the dreaded comments (never read the comments).
Sometimes, there are casualties. Celebs, it is argued occasionally, know what they are getting themselves into with the constant intrusion – you need to court publicity to keep working in some cases, but then when cameras are taking photos of you with no make-up on doing the school run, or buying biscuits at 10 pm in Tesco, there is a point where it becomes too intrusive. Why do we need reassurance that the celebs are the same as us? They might have more money, talent, luck, looks and stylists than we do – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have needs. They are still people.
The casualties are us. The little people: the non-celebs that didn’t sign up for a life in front of a camera at all – most notably, the families of the famous or those attached around the periphery.
This article, deals with that entire scenario playing out in my family.
My cousin, was in a very long term relationship with someone who was quite – but not enormously – famous. My cousins famous partner, went off with someone else, who is enormously famous and very well known. Because of the scandal, my cousin’s name and life came under the microscope, with people guessing the ins and outs of the whole thing.
This was polarised for me when I was reading an article on a newspapers website about it.
I did the unholy thing of looking at the comments.
There were hundreds of comments written about my relative. People, who have never met my cousin and never will, having a wild stab in the dark about the circumstances of the break up. They said some unpleasant, nasty and cruel things. They wanted the beloved celebs involved to be absolved of blame, so that it could be heaped onto the ‘peasant’ – the ordinary person.
It felt horrible to see my family member speculated about like that. I wanted to write on the thread “but do you lot not understand that the families involved in this are going to see these comments and feel utterly violated, hurt, angry and sad by the nonsense you’re writing??”.
There is this sense of entitlement: I pay to see your films, listen to your music and watch your TV show – so therefore, you belong to me somehow and everyone to do with you.
My cousin isn’t famous though. My relative has supported their famous partner in all of their endeavours and been loyal, understanding and loving. They have not courted the limelight and have, in fact, shunned it. They have stood in the wings and stayed back from it all, finding more camaraderie with the other behind-the-scenes people than out front, absorbing all the attention.
Now, my relative is being judged and gossiped about and it is pretty hurtful to see.
Unless someone has done some terrible crime or behaved in an outrageous horrendous manner (a la Operation Yew Tree), then do not stand there and talk about people you simply do not know. I knew we can all be guilty of this at times in our everyday lives, let alone about celebs, but before you broadcast your opinions on someone you have never met – consider the fact that these people have families who are going to feel the brunt of this.
They have to pick up the pieces and they have the horror of ‘reading the comments’.
I can promise you, you do not, in all probability, know my relative. Said person is quiet and unassuming and wants to remain so. I want to help my relative with that as much as I can.
If there is someone being an idiot and clearly doing and saying things for attention – then do what you were told to in the playground when you were little: just walk away and leave them to it. The less we pay attention to someone, the quicker they will go away.
We’re a weird species in that we judge others we do not know, based on how pretty their feathers are or how close to the sun they get, rather than restraining ourselves to the myriad of more deserving idiots do we know in our own, everyday lives.