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Blue vs. White: Celebrities are public figures and should be treated as such

Staff Columnist

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

Being a celebrity nowadays is akin to being a Greek god or goddess centuries ago. Perhaps Brangelina is our parallel to Zeus and Hera, or Lindsay Lohan our version of Aphrodite. (Personally, I think Charlie Sheen could make a good Hades.) The metaphor holds because, much like the Greeks, Americans are fascinated with their celebrities. The only difference is that we don’t use folklore to discuss their sexual exploits and instead use “People” magazine. The addiction people feel for knowing information about celebrities, like whether or not Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have reconciled, is an interesting concept.

Some may argue that the celebrities deserve their privacy and that they are “real” people, too. In many ways they aren’t, because of the lives they chose to lead and because of the way we perceive them. We don’t think of Neil Patrick Harris as “Neil,” because the general public does not know him. Instead, celebrities become icons we don’t fully understand as human. We see them as just gods and goddess with a few discernible traits. I don’t know if Jennifer Aniston goes home to watch the new episode of “Parks and Recreation,” or what color Taylor Swift painted her room. I don’t actually know these celebrities the way I know my friends or family, so how am I invading their privacy?
Furthermore, there’s the argument that they chose this life or chose a part of it. There are many draws to the careers that make you famous, from the fame and fortune to the fact you get to do something you love every day and get paid well for it. It’s hard to feel bad knowing so many details regarding Tom Cruise’s recent divorce when he earned $75 million this year. Nobody today enters the business or takes a career without knowing that once they make it, they are in for the public eye. Jennifer Lawrence, now a huge star because of “The Hunger Games,” took a couple of days before accepting the role because of what being the face of the new huge movie franchise would do for her fame and level of privacy.

One must also look at how open some celebrities are to having people involved in their lives. There’s the light version, which would include a verified Twitter account that is mostly dedicated to updates about their current projects. Sometimes your private life seeps in, in the form of intense “Breaking Bad”-related tweets like Patton Oswalt’s or dedicatedly liberal comments like Mr. Roger Ebert. Then there’s a more extreme way of letting people into your private life, like being a reality TV star, such as the show “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” or “Jersey Shore.” These people can’t claim any form of privacy when they regularly invite people into their homes to film them. Opening up your private life also isn’t always a bad publicity move for actors and actresses; people like Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen have made millions for being crazy.

The opposing side may argue that it is impossible to keep your private life private when you’re a celebrity and they literally will find out everything about you. I disagree. For certain celebrities, is possible to keep things under wraps. Let’s compare here. When Angelina Jolie gave birth to twins in 2008, the pictures were sold for a record breaking $14 million to “People” and “Hello!” magazines, so “People” could have “19 pages of intimate family photos” available for everyone to see. However, when Owen Wilson’s girlfriend was pregnant in 2011, his rep released the information to the public just four days before she would actually give birth. The contrast here is remarkably evident.

In the end, it’s all how the celebrity manages their fame. There are no laws to prevent the delving into of a celebrity’s private life. But why should there be? We don’t actually see them as who they are, just the image they’ve fed us over the years. Maybe I’d be more sympathetic if Taylor Swift didn’t write songs about every single break-up. If they continue to let us into their lives so persistently, get overpaid for doing so and often gain from the publicity attention, it’s hard to argue that celebrities don’t want the exposure and should have laws to protect themselves from it. Celebrities get what they signed up for, and I won’t apologize for buying a copy of “People” this week.

 

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