Of Celebrity & Judgmentalism

My daughter is 4 years old and she loves Taylor Swift.  I am okay with this.  My wife, not so much.  She doesn’t actively dislike her, but we got into an interesting debate the other night and it inspired me to write about it.

My daughter is currently aspiring to be a singer when she grows up.  She’s a bit torn though, as 4 year olds tend to be, between being Taylor Swift and Merida from Brave.  I am 100% responsible for that last one.

As we were watching Shake It Off on Youtube the other night my daughter said, “I want to be Taylor!”

I said, “That sounds like a good plan.  She’s a very popular singer and she started really young!”

My wife replied with, “Don’t be like her, she’s slutty and she can’t keep a boyfriend.”

That really got me thinking.  The debate got a bit heated because, while my wife was making an offhanded and only half serious remark, I came back at her in full, “this is why that is a ridiculous thing to say,” mode… and any man who has come at their wife in this mode knows that the fight ends with me on the couch thinking, “I was just trying to make a point…”

Here is what that point was (proving that men never learn their lesson about shutting up and letting things lie 🙂 ):

1. Money Changes People 

Money, sadly, makes the world go ’round.  For those familiar with Pink Floyd’s famous song, Money, it is the root of all evil… but if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away. 04a7cc0c6176ac4bb1a6232c83122802acbb00cf5e77f9b031042e649c7d2a61

Being relatively poor most of my life, I’ve dreamt of being rich and how wonderful it would be.  Who hasn’t at one point or another?  I imagine that if I were to become a superstar right now I’d have a good head on my shoulders about it and be able to handle the pressure.  I’d be smart, or so I tell myself.

If I became rich like Taylor Swift did I am not so sure things would have turned out well…

Taylor Swift made her first record at 16.  According to wikipedia, “she is the youngest singer to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart.”  She then went on have the best selling album of the year in 2009… at 19.  At 26 she is now making 80 million a year and has a net worth of nearly 200 million dollars.  

She is a year younger than my wife.

I asked my wife if, at that age, she had been given that kind of money, how she thought her life might have changed.  She claimed she would not have been different.  I think that is almost impossible.

41embdo202l-_ux342_I can tell you that, as a 36 year old man, I have yet to finish maturing in many ways.  At 19 years old I was quite possibly one of the dumbest people on earth.  If I had been given millions of dollars at 19, I can guarantee my life and my per
sonality would have taken a whole different road.

I would have gotten myself into a whole heap of trouble because the stakes are so much higher when you have the cash to open doors that are closed to most people.  Money turns wild ideas into reality.  At 19 I thought some pretty insane s**t.  Put into that kind of place I think I would have made a lot of decisions I would grow to regret.  Not because I was a bad person at heart, but because given that kind of freedom, power, and pressure at an age and maturity where I wasn’t equipped to handle it would have tempted me past my better judgement.

Many people try to argue that they would be the same person, but I think this is a lie we tell ourselves.  Human beings are defined by their struggles.  All the failures you’ve had to overcome have moulded you into the human being you are.  True, some base form of your nature may remain, but having that kind of money would drastically alter the type of struggles you would encounter.  Which leads me to point number 2…

2. Trust Is A Complicated Thing

My wife argued that she would not have gotten into so many strange relationships with men no matter how much money she had.  I tried to argue that trust is a perilous thing even in the best of circumstances.

Show of hands here from the people who have been burned by someone they trusted.  Keep them up if you have been burned by someone you were in a relationship with.  Now think about how much more complicated that situation becomes when you are world famous and have a heap of cash at your disposal.  Think of the number of flies you would have to swat at daily.  Think of all the work you would have to do to shield yourself from the people who were after everything but the you you so desperately wanted them to know and see and love.

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This.. is… Taylor?

How isolating and frustrating must that be?  The only people you would be able to truly bear everything to would be the ones who were around before it all blew up.  Very few people have lifelong friends that they grow to trust implicitly at age 16… let alone loves of their life.

Putting myself into a situation where I was 19, rich, famous, and surrounded by people who had to be strangers, I can see how I might end up going through a rollercoaster ride in my relationships.  Hell, between 16 and 26 I did go through a rollercoaster.  The difference is, no one cares about my rollercoaster.

3. Monogamy Is A Choice. 

Before I get too many people ready to shoot fireballs at me, let me explain.  I am a happily married man and I have no desire to be with anyone other than my wife.  I love her with all my heart and I am happy to be with only her till I die.

That being said, that lifestyle is what works for me.  If a celebrity, or any other person for that matter, is living a lifestyle that you do not approve of or prescribe to than you are free to voice your opinion, but keep in mind the words of Charles A. Dana, “Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.”

Since the rise of western religious doctrine the norm has become, “one man, one woman.”  That does not mean this is correct for everyone, even if the majority feels it is.  Human beings have to learn to let other people live how they feel comfortable, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  It isn’t our life.

4. You Cannot Really Know.

One of the oddest things about celebrity is it brings about an open invitation to have your life evaluated and picked apart by any and all human beings.  Why?  Well, you asked for it, putting yourself up there on that pedestal.

Is that really sensical?

I listened to someone ripping another person apart at work the other day and I had to interject and ask how much they really knew about her personally.  The answer was, “you mean outside of work?  I don’t know anything about her.”  But he felt totally justified in lighting her up like Times Square on New Years because she did some things he thought were silly.

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This is my picture of him.  He is 100% this person.

The truth is, we all have a story.  It’s complicated and convoluted.  It has many twists and turns and there are millions of little bits you hide from the majority of the world.  A select few know the real truth about you, and those people are the diamonds in the rough.

Now, hands up again if you’ve ever been laid into by someone who knew f**k all about you, but still took it upon themselves to assume.  How pissed off did that make you?

Thinking about celebrities, none of us know them even the slightest bit, but people love to talk as if they do.  We think that because we read something about them online or in a magazine that we understand the width and breadth of their life and are free to pass judgement on it.

That was the part that got me fired up, to be honest.  How in the world can we as rational, intelligent human beings assume to know the first thing about someone like Taylor Swift?  Let alone enough to be able to say, “she’s a slut.”  Really?  Do you hang out with her?  Does she confide all the deep dark secrets of her soul to you?  No?  Then knock it off.  You don’t know her any better than you know Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse, so what gives you the right to throw off judgement?

I have my own life to live and my own baggage to carry.  You have yours.  Taylor Swift has hers.  My feeling is, why am I going to judge a life I am not living?

Which brings me to my last point…

5. Society Loves To See People Fail.

The reason why so many people are willing to cast judgement on celebrities they don’t know is because human beings take some twisted satisfaction in seeing people fall from grace.  We like to drag people down.

One of my favourite bloggers, empress2inspire, wrote a wonderful piece on empathy that bolsters this point I feel.  People simply lack the desire to empathise with other human beings, especially if that person is perceived to be higher on the totem pole.  Why?  Well, they got all the way up there, so why am I going to feel any compassion for them?

Because they are human, and so are you… I hope.

Bringing others down or judging them, especially when one knows next to nothing about them, will never help one move into their place.  I wish we could learn to stop doing this because it’s just sad.

Newspapers and the internet are trying to get readers.  How do you do that?  Sensationalism.  That’s a fancy word for making something bigger than it is, or even making something of nothing.  If you need a visual, it looks like this: disney-graphics-pinocchio-329861

And people eat it up because we, as a society, lack compassion.

We have no shortage of judgement though.


 

My advice to you is this:  Think back to a time when someone said something hurtful about you and hold that feeling in your heart for a while.  Then, the next time you start bashing another human being, celebrity or not, remember that hurt.  Remember that, innocent or not, you are attacking another human being that you might not know well enough to really be making those judgements about.

Next time, try and think well of them, even if they’ve given you no reason to.  Why?  Because focusing on the good only makes your life more positive.  I would rather think the best of people, as naive as that may sound, because thinking negatively only makes my own life that much darker.

As far as celebrities go, feel free to dislike their work.  But don’t be so brazen as to think you have a right to judge their life as if you know anything about it.  You don’t.  You can’t.  What you know was fed to you by a writer with an agenda.  Be smarter than that.

More importantly, be more compassionate than that.

12 thoughts on “Of Celebrity & Judgmentalism

  1. Don’t worry. Children at that age are fickle. By next week she’ll have forgotten all about Miss Swift and will want to be Ana from Frozen when she grows up…… Perish the thought. I don’t know which is worst. Buy her a pony instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen to all of this!!! And not just because I happen to adore Taylor and have a great deal of respect for her. You could have written this about an artist I can’t stand (say, Arianna Grande), and I still agree.

    While I must admit I would love to have that kind of money, I have never envied the scrutiny and judgment that celebrities face. Just yesterday I was thinking about how something so minor, like snapping at someone rude, is blown out of proportions when celebrities do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Which is double sided as well. People mob them everywhere they go, which would try even a saint, but we all fee like they owe us that because we bought their product.

      On some levels they do owe their fans something, but how much is something too many feel at liberty to decide on their own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed. And regarding the question of money changing a person, I would imagine that the degree to which a vast windfall would change you varies person to person. But I would be hard pressed to believe there’s anyone out there who it wouldn’t change at all. I like to think that if I were to become a multi-millionaire I wouldn’t change too much for the worse, but I imagine that might be take a lot more self conscious effort than it seems. Also, I think one inevitable downside to becoming mega wealthy would be that life’s little treats wouldn’t seem to special any more. For example, fiancé and I go out to a nice restaurant maybe a few times a year, on our birthdays and our anniversary. But if we were multi-millionaires, spending $100 on dinner would not even come close to breaking the bank, so I’m sure we’d do it a lot more often. And if we went out to fancy restaurants every week, it’s hard to see how the experience wouldn’t lose its special charm.

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  3. I admittedly skimmed this but I got the good points… husband on the couch, a lot of money isn’t great, public scrutiny. 2 quick thoughts… 1. Wives (this one especially) can sometimes be the one on the couch. 🙂 2. I truly appreciate your opinion posts. I generally agree but I think that they are always well thought out, well written, and thought provoking. I thank you for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It comes down to which one is more opinionated. They ride the couch. I am glad to hear you appreciate my thoughts. I know my opinions are simply that, my opinion, but if it gets people thinking about something than it is worthwhile. You are welcome and we’ll be back again next Thursday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very thoughtful post! I agree with you, sir (sorry, Mrs. Olivier). I always think about Michael Jackson, and how he was never NOT famous – that must have played a huge role in personality development. Because your conception of how the Universe works in terms of what you can and can’t do, can and can’t have, and can and can’t get away with must get terribly skewed. I think Lord Acton said it best: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s easy to imagine – with frankly very little choice in the matter – that one would turn down attractive and willing suitor after attractive and willing suitor and never lord one’s power over anyone. But if you think about how great it feels to make people do what you want once in while – because you’re pissy or hungry or bossy or whatever, and they go along with it – and imagine that that’s your WHOLE LIFE…? Yeah. That would change the whole game. Being noble with few other options available to you isn’t the same as being noble with unlimited options.

    I remember your early 20s. It makes for a funny and self-effacing story to say that you were the dumbest person on the Earth, but the scary thing is that you actually weren’t. You were (and are) nice, and a people-pleaser. But I think that makes the point even more poignant, because infinite resources would’ve wreaked havoc on that poor sap, even with all good intentions (and to be clear, I wouldn’t have been any better). I’ve wondered whether or not being fully formed, more or less, would make a difference? Like, wouldn’t “Now-You” handle it a lot better than “Then-You?” And I imagine so, but I still see people who had nothing all their lives turn into total jackbags when they come into their own as adults. I mean, not *us.* Clearly. But those bastards who get super-wealthy when WE’RE THE ONES WHO DESERVE IT and would totally be awesome and thoughtful and nice about it. ; )

    In conclusion, and on a totally unrelated note, I may or may not have listened to “Shake it Off” on more or less endless loop for about a month. Ok, it’s not unrelated: I am an unabashed Swiftie fan, and I think the record shows that she’s a lot nicer to people than most in the industry. ; ) But that’s neither here nor there (I’m just saying that to sound diplomatic. We both know it’s here. And not there).

    Thanks for the great discussion, buddy!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Agreed. I still vote for Merida because…who doesn’t want to be a real life cartoon?! (Ok, except maybe for Pigpen from Peanuts). You are absolutely correct in all that say and my hands are up…and staying up! Great piece 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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