There’s this idea that, if someone is rich and famous and in the public eye, that they don’t deserve the same respect as other people who may not have the same fortunes. A part of our collective bonding as humans is to snark on and judge the lives of celebrities. Yet, celebrities are nothing except for projections of who we think has more of what we want: fame, money, power, influence, opportunity. The way we treat celebrities and the conversations we have about celebrities say more about us than it does about actual famous people.
We think we have the right to treat someone terribly if we perceive them as being “better off” than us. Furthermore, it would follow that we think we can treat someone terribly if we perceive them as having “less” than us, since we assume that people who are better off than us look down on us, then we must also be looking down on people who we perceive as being worse off than us. This is the logic that follows when we break down the way in which we talk about and treat celebrities in American culture.
There is so much hate directed at celebrities. Hate for what seems like absolutely no reason except the belief that they have more than us. Yes, they have more money, but are they happier, better loved, at peace? Every celebrity death or hospitalization or admittance into rehab tells us that we project a whole lot onto them: the happiness they don’t overwhelmingly have; the money we think makes them less susceptible to sadness or addiction or stress or suffering; the fame that we perceive as being enough to supplicate love they might not feel for themselves. The only thing we can know about celebrity is that each one of them is a human being. They are not overwhelmingly one thing or not, because they are all different, same as any other group of people.
What’s more telling about our obsession with celebrity is how that same attitude affects the connections we make on a day to day basis. The snide comment about a guy who drives a Mercedes. Talking on your cell while ordering a coffee with the barista before you go to the office. A curt, rude comment on someone’s writing, music, art form, thoughts, opinion. Our judgment and disrespect and hatred that we direct at celebrity does not exist in a vacuum. That same judgment and disrespect and hatred is being spewed everywhere we go, at people we perceive as having things we want, lives we think we want, things we think we are lacking. No one deserves to be treated inhumanely or disrespectfully, no matter how much more “fortunate” you think someone is.
You can’t think it’s okay for Jennifer Lawrence’s phone to be hacked so that private, intimate pictures of her could be splayed across the Internet. You can’t think it’s okay just because she’s rich and famous and has opened herself up to the public. Because, she’s a person. All the celebrities who had their private phones violated are, as well. They are living, breathing human beings. Their famousness or wealthiness does not make them immune to feeling violated. Their famousness or wealthiness does not make it okay for you to treat them without any respect.
But, we can see how quickly these same ideas get applied to non-famous people that we come in contact with. We make judgments about people constantly and those judgments dictate our behavior. If we perceive someone as being superior to us or having something that we desire or having something that we perceive puts them at an advantage over us, we quickly dismiss and dislike them. Our jealousy has become hate. Our projections of the lives we think other people are living have become gospel. We don’t take the time to understand each other. We just snap judge, throw negativity in their direction, and move on. It’s a battle. It’s an aggression.
And we wonder why there’s so much violence and hate in the world.
Look at how we treat each other. Look at how we treat our public figures. Look at how we treat our celebrities. No respect. No regard for them as humans. We treat people as if they are entertainment for us to consume. They’re not. Our blatant and continual resistance to understanding other people, no matter their social status or bank account, is making us hardened. We don’t take the time to understand people, we just project what we want to see and dismiss.
This is not love or connection.
We have the capacity for so much more than this. I don’t know why we insist on keeping ourselves so small and petty. Let’s be magnanimous and loving and light-filled. Let’s extend our respect and care and consideration to anyone, without them asking or earning it. What kind of world would that be? Don’t you want to be a part of that world? It won’t happen overnight, but it certainly won’t happen if we don’t step up. Let’s be bigger than all of this. Let’s remember that, in any moment, we have the choice to love and let’s choose that choice more often than not and see where that gets us. Anything’s gotta be better than where we are right now.