Which Celebrity Do You Hate?

by Dan on May 25, 2009

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I was hanging out with my friend Mariah tonight, when an old film of Angelina Jolie came on TV.  She had to have been in her early 20’s when this one came out, whatever it was.  From Mariah’s cool, relaxed state came a sudden barrage of venom against this celebrity.

When I asked why she was so against this woman, she gave me a list of reasons.

“She’s a bad actress”

“She’s so fake looking.”

“She’s too skinny.”

“She adopted kids from Africa just to help her image”

“She adopted kids from Africa she can’t spend time with anyway.”

“She adopted kids from Africa instead of the poor USA kids.”

“She stole this other celebrity’s man.”

I think that covers just about all Mariah’s major problems with Angelina Jolie, though she somehow managed to trash her for an astonishing amount of time.  If you know me well, you can guess my next question to her.

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“So, what do you think of Paris Hilton?”

This opened the floodgates as well.  Paris Hilton apparently is also too skinny, is extremely wealthy and famous through no skill of her own, is superficial, is stupid, and is everything wrong with America today.

It’s interesting to me how someone can target so much negativity to someone who he or she has not only never met, but has yet to have affected their life in any tangible fashion.  I have a lot to say on the issue of judgmentalism, but I think celebrity judgment is almost a separate category of negative feelings that can get in the way of your own inner peace and freedom.

Think about a celebrity you don’t like, preferably one that makes you angry when you hear they just signed a $300 million contract.

Usually, your anger will come from a couple rationales:

  • Celeb does not deserve his/her success
  • Celeb sets a bad example for teens
  • Celeb has unethical behavior
  • Celeb has bad personality

Each of these reasons, whether true or false, has an effect on your own lifestyle and success if you keep these thoughts in your head.  Let’s look at the first one.

Paris Hilton is my favorite example of the “undeserving” category.  She is the epitome of unearned wealth.  Heiress to a billionaire, walks around looking good, waving at the camera, and not only has an enormous trust fund, but makes millions on her own time from her fame.

As yourself this, is unearned wealth a bad thing?

Maybe we shouldn’t rush to give her the Harvard Business Review award for outstanding entrepreneurship.  I wouldn’t nominate her performance in “House of Wax” for an Oscar either.  However, does her getting money for looking pretty (or not so pretty, depending on your opinion), affect you in any way?   Probably not.

The real issue here is one of jealousy.  Nothing is being taken away from you, but you resent that you don’t have this level of success even though you are working hard.

The protestant work ethic of “a dollar’s work for a dollar’s pay” sounds fair on the face of it, but no one really lives by that notion in the modern world.  If you have a professional office job, I can guarantee you there are people in other lands working longer hours, with greater effort, for lower pay.  Should they resent you?

What you have over the hand laborers is exactly what Paris Hilton has over you: marketable value.  A hand laborer makes his employer a modest sum of money.  Assuming you’re doing your job correctly, you are making your employer a great deal of money, at least more than your salary.  Paris Hilton can make any place she steps into an enormous amount of money.  If she speaks at a charity ball, they will raise more money.  If she attends a football game, more people will buy season tickets that year and the one to follow.

She can make her contractors tens of millions, which is why they give her a few million for her time.  Can you do that?   If not, you have no reason to complain.

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Aside from the issue of whether she does have any value to add the marketplace, ask yourself if you really want to hold to the belief that you must earn every dollar you bring in.  If you set a rule that you can only make what you deserve, and what you deserve is set at $X amount, then you cut yourself off from any breaks that can bring more money in.  Did you really deserve that bonus?   What about the promotion?   Were you really the hardest worker on your team?

There is no way you can hold other people to the law of “work hard for your money” if you don’t sentence yourself as well.  How you treat others is necessarily how you treat yourself in many ways.

Give everyone permission to make as much money as they can, as long as they’re doing it legally and not through malicious means.

What about the idea that a celebrity is setting a bad example for everyone?   A popular complaint is that actresses and models get too skinny and this leads to teenagers trying to emulate them in unhealthy ways.  Also, if a celebrity gets plastic surgery, it’s looked down upon for raising the body image bar even higher.

Interestingly, the same people who criticize celebs for setting a bad example this way are the ones who will say “She’s so plastic looking and ugly,” or “She’s too skinny, who would want to date her?”

Can you see the irony here?   The very criticism you give them for their looks are driving them to these unhealthy and expensive procedures.  If you give a smirk of contempt when a pop singer’s face has signs of Botox, or if an actress’ lip injection goes awry, then YOU ARE PART OF THE MACHINE!

Without planning on it, our society has created a hostile climate for anyone making their way in the entertainment industry.  Not only do tabloids give photoshopped exposes of “stars without makeup,” but once they hit the stands, consumers talk about the celebrities like it’s their own fault they don’t look beautiful 24 hours a day.  If David Hasselhoff hops in the pool with a bit of a beerbelly, it’s on Entertainment Tonight how he’s a plump has-been.

There is a big market for tearing down those who have made it in the public eye, and if you take that tasty bite of knocking someone famous down, you are part of that market, whether you buy the tabloid or not.

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With the ongoing threat of being the next “celebrity fatty,” of course they’re going to diet in unhealthy ways, get plastic surgery, and God knows what else.  Teens may not get the best example, but that’s not a top priority when you have to worry about your public image that you depend on in order to get the next film contract.  If you think this is an exaggeration, do a Google search for “jessica simpson fat,” and see what comes up.    If you are part of the smirking crowd, you are part of the blame.

One of the few celebrities who is notably gorgeous despite having a little extra weight is Kim Kardashian, and even she takes hits for being “too fat.”   Kelly Clarkson has taken some similar criticism as well.  Between being too fat or too skinny, it’s professionally safer to be on the skinny side.

As for bad examples in other non-physical ways, I agree this can be a problem.  I’m not happy that 50 Cent sings happy songs about being “high all the time” from his drug habit.  I was recently also deeply bothered by Rihanna getting back with her abusive boyfriend, Chris Brown, because I know it will cause other battered women to learn from her example to not only forgive their abuser but give him more chances to put them in the hospital.

With these issues, I cannot argue that they’re not causing some damage to society.  At the same time, regardless of these problems, there’s little to gain by holding onto negative feelings.

It’s the same with celebrities who are involved in gang violence, promote poor grammar to inner city children, or even soap opera like relationship faux pas like having an affair or stealing someone’s husband.

If you want to take some action, maybe go ahead and call your DJ and say you don’t want to hear Chris Brown on the radio, because he’s a woman beater.  Radio stations have responded to this, and I am not opposed to this decision.

However, once you’ve made your phone call, or written your letter, let it go.  Do not partake in bitching sessions about how much of a jerk this person is for whatever they have done.

The last complaint people have about celebrities is amusing to me, because it exposes a delusion the media is adores in us, the fantasy that we actually know anything about the celebrities they report on.

To say you understand someone’s personality who you’ve never met is an arrogant statement to say the least.  You’ve been given little clips from a TV station or a magazine whose sole goal it is to make you tune in tomorrow, or to buy more papers.  With this goal in mind, they have no incentive but to report quotes that will make you respond emotionally in one way or another.

In other words, YOU DON’T KNOW THEM.

If anyone followed you around with a video camera and recorder, you can bet they could find 15 second bytes that would reflect badly on you.  Have you ever made a racist joke?   The luxury you have is that you were “kidding” and the celebrity is a “bigot.”   Have you ever gotten drunk in public?   No one knew.  How about get into a verbal fight with a coworker?   No one mentioned it the next day.  Somehow if a big name actor uses profanity while talking to a costar, he should be blackballed from the industry.

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Examine the standards you have for the pretty faces on television and see if you hold yourself to the same degree.  Even when a celebrity does something nice, there is an incentive for the media to twist it around.  If someone adopts a kid from Africa, then they should have adopted domestically, even though the critics are content to give birth to their own children, instead of adopting a child without a home.

Maybe the singer used her celebrity power to get the kid faster, or maybe they’re not spending enough time with their kid and having their servants raise them.  If you’re buying into any of this, ask yourself if you’d prefer the unfair celebrity   left the child in a starving nation instead.  If you’d rather the kid stay in Swaziland, then that’s a clue your priority isn’t really ethics, but fault-finding.

In conclusion, I want to remind you that even if the celebrities you despise are really bad people, holding anger about them can never help you.  Make some peace within yourself and think of some people you do like.  You have only so much emotional energy available, so don’t waste it on people who don’t even know you exist.

–Dan

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 C.M.D. May 25, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Nicole Richie, the Olsen Twins, Hilary Duff, and Macaulay Culkin. 5 celebrities, around my age. The things people say about them are foul. I would be suicidal if somebody said those things about me. Yet they keep going. You kinda have to admire that.

2 Mariah June 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm

my remark : is making money by ANY means justified? It means that if you sell yourself, your popularity or your name deserves respect from the public just because it makes you a good business women? Yes, it is free world and we can present and sell what ever we want as long as we don’t hurt somebody else, no? but when you have society which values JUST money or certain type of body image , this empty empty shell of personality- it is truly sad and it DOES make a demage. You don;t want to raise your children in shallow society. AND another remark: the are PLENTY amazing celebrities: pretty , smart and rich. the difference between them and Paris Hilton- they have CLASS, something that this young” lady” doesn’t have .

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