Being a celebrity is to be well-known and famous, to be liked, disliked and followed. And so, holding this status instantly grants you a share of power. Whether welcomed or not, you’re placed into a position where you have the authority to influence the way people think and the way people behave. You can control the masses, and this means that you’re able to positively impact or drastically rupture society.
But on the other side of this, you are criticised, watched and scrutinised by the public eye.
As the old saying says, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and that’s why the rise of many famous figures being exposed as sexual, violent and abusive predators, is so worrying. Celebrities are people. They live and breathe, laugh and cry. The power they have, doesn’t make them any less human and hence, they shouldn’t be excused from the repercussions of their abusive behaviour. After the Jimmy Saville scandal, the media exposed several more famous figures as sexual predators. As I said before, being a celebrity grants you power. Rather than using this power constructively, it seems that many of these famous abusers use it as leverage. They use it as a way of getting what they want, with the trusted belief that no one will say anything because no one will dare to speak out. No one will dare to challenge them. They abuse their power. After all, their status brings not only adulation, but wealth, and money often helps people escape legal action.
But legal action isn’t the only action we should be seeking to take. Ethical actions should be a thought for consideration. By this I mean, that we shouldn’t so readily accept their wrongdoings, simply because of status and because of this, I’m not sure where the issue lies. Of course, the perpetrators shouldn’t display such abusive behaviour, however, our cultural overlooking of this, suggests that we don’t believe such behaviour should be challenged. It encourages further abhorrent behaviour. Perhaps we should stop idolising celebrities and stop placing them on such a pedestal, that they feel untouchable. They’re not. Their lives are not inseparable from ours; they’re intertwined. Just like us, celebrities have the capacity to do good and bad, and so understand that hearing an allegation against someone you admire, doesn’t eliminate the truth. The qualities you admire, do not displace the corrupt ones. No matter how much you adore a person, when there is either proof or they’ve admitted to being abusive, then we need to acknowledge this. Being famous shouldn’t insulate you from any aftermath. Ignoring the problem, only encourages it.
We live in a society which has craftily built double standards between the lives of the famous and our own lives. The list of celebrities who have been proven to verbally, physically and/or sexually abuse innocent victims is long and still growing. Chris Brown brutally and infamously attacked Rihanna – girlfriend at the time – in 2009. In a later interview he said, ‘I really hit her, with a closed fist, I punched her.’ On numerous accounts, Chris Brown has openly confessed to the disgusting and violent acts he engaged in, admitting that he became a ‘monster’. The images of Rihanna’s battered face were circulated, and the pair willingly spoke about the toxic air in their relationship. So why has Brown’s career remained so successful and seemingly untouched by the atrocities of his actions? His career remained unharmed. Granted, I acknowledge the fact he was honest about his acts of domestic violence, rather than trying to conceal them or discredit Rihanna’s accusations, but I do not respect him. The celebrity culture is warped and currently seems to scream, that if you admit to your wrongdoings – no matter how wrong – you can continue to do wrong. You can continue to be worshipped. You can continue to succeed.
Chris Brown is just one name in a sea of names, who has been convicted for events like the above, and still managed to thrive. Floyd Mayweather is another well-known figure, who managed to enjoy a prosperous and successful career, despite being found guilty for several counts of domestic violence. When Floyd fought his last boxing match in 2017, he had the nation behind him, a whole body of people encouraging him and wanting to see him do well. 50 million viewers were estimated to have watched Floyd reap his 50th win, in his last fight against McGregor, in which Floyd was guaranteed to make at least $100 million. We quite easily looked past his multiple counts of abusive, violent and misogynistic behaviour and pulled together to support him. Our silence surrounding Mayweather’s abusive background, suggests that it can be ignored and that ultimately, it’s okay. Recognising and accepting these behaviours, through supporting the perpetrator, only makes us advocates. You have to ask yourself who’s being punched drunk.
I don’t believe the past should be defining or limiting, because people can change, but I do think that we should remember the past and learn from it. It’s important to recognise that if any of these events had occurred with people you knew, perhaps a neighbour, someone from work or even a family member, that surely your whole demeanour would shift in their presence. You’d take a step back and distance yourself from the perpetrator, maybe to protect your loved ones. So, I wonder why it’s any different when we look upon the behaviours of those we don’t even know, just admire. Surely, it’s easier to detach from someone who you’ve never had any interaction with, or maybe the looming idea that you will never have any interaction with them, allows us to cling on to our idols and support from a distance, despite their crimes. Social media allows us to buy into the best parts of their lives and feel as though we are experiencing this journey alongside them and so any negative acts are dismissed. We choose to indulge in ignorance. I think sometimes people find that it’s easier to ignore issues like this, especially when they don’t directly concern them. Don’t choose to be blinded. Celebrities are human beings, and when they attack, inflict, rape, molest and exploit, see them for what they are: plain abusers.