Idolization and Dehumanization of Celebrities

By now, most of you have probably seen the interview that Cara Delevingne did with Good Morning Sacramento, but just in case you missed it:

I knew this whole thing was a disaster before it was even over, but it’s that special kind of disaster that you just can’t look away from. Right off the bat, the host introducing Cara refers to her as Carla, and it just goes downhill from there. I’ve noticed, though, that people seem to be a little divided when it comes to placing the blame. Half of the people that talk about it think that Cara started off with a snarky attitude, and the other half found issue with the hosts’ treatment and the questions they asked.

Personally, I have to side with the second group.

People have called her a bitch, and they’ve claimed that she doesn’t appreciate her privilege, but someone’s level of fame shouldn’t have any bearing on general politeness. I think she responded the way any human would. She even cut off the broadcast, rather than sit there and make digs at them, like they proceeded to do to her on live television.

The problem I see with fame is that people treat you like you owe them something, and they expect to be able to get it from you whenever they want. It doesn’t matter if it’s five o’clock in the morning or midnight. They don’t care if you’ve sat down for dozens of interviews and answered the same questions hundreds of times. They rob you of any leeway for mistakes, give you no slack for bad days. They ask for you to be real and down-to-earth and human, then chastise you for having a human moment.

It’s hard to say exactly when seeing these well-known people as something more than just people became the norm. I think it happens because we see something in them that we wish we had, and we reflect our dreams onto them. So, when they step out of that perfect image we’ve drawn them into, we turn on them.

The thing is, these actors and musicians and models are still just people. They are no more or less perfect than anyone else. All the hairspray and Photoshop in the world doesn’t change the fact that they are flawed in the same ways that we are all flawed. No one is capable of giving 100% of themselves at all times, and really, no one should be expecting anyone else to. I think this is why so many child stars end up involved in some wild tabloid story; when you don’t give people room to make mistakes, not only will you always wind up disappointed, but the person being idolized will always be disappointing.

And this applies to more than just famous people.

We idolize our partners, our parents, our friends, our children—even that person who serves us our coffee every morning and draws a little smile beside our name. We want goodness from them, and so we expect them to always be good. When they inevitably don’t live up to our storyline for their life, we see their deviations as mistakes. This way of thinking is the most detrimental to children because it leaves them with no room to develop themselves. They’ve got to be able to reach out and try things that might be bad for them in order to find their own boundaries, and define for themselves what they are and are not okay with. If they spend all that time wondering how to make everyone around them happy and no one ever asks what they want, they won’t even know how to answer that question.

To clarify, it’s not a bad thing to want the best for the people you care about. You just can’t let yourself forget that there is more than one version of the best.