When celebrities become couples or find a significant other, we somehow feel invested in their relationships. The media fans this seeming ‘right to know’ how the relationship will evolve – granting us split-second photo images or several minutes of tidbits on tik-tok. It is comparable to a romantic film script which is unravelling in slow motion. These tidbits are ultimately crumbs which are so unsatisfying to the soul that they leave us craving more. We are left with the sweet-tasting illusion that we do really know them. We are flooded with images and short quotes from them, their friends and family, but it is like looking at a family photo album where most of the characters are strangers to us although they seem so accessible.
The idea of two souls aligning and finally overcoming every obstacle to their paths crossing and the flame of love being ignited, is explored in the film ‘The Adjustment Bureau’. The western, modern view of romantic love has taught us to believe there is a special someone out there for everyone. We have then made the error of concluding the relationship will be easy – like magic. Hence, when turbulence appears in the hitherto smooth waters, we are prone to panic and swiftly make the second erroneous conclusion that that special someone we thought was the one, was a mere imposter.
It is no wonder that the romantic course of those in showbusiness rarely seem to be smooth. They are used to being offered a never-ending cascade of scripts where the heroes and heroine faces many obstacles to happiness. The classic film ‘Serendipity’ encapsulates this well. The scripts always end on the swoon-worthy note of the thwarted lovers finally finding one another, usually sealed by a kiss and with the resounding implication that they will live happily ever after. Enter Reality, that harsh and undesirable nemesis who brings all these grand illusions tumbling down.
The beautiful temptress notches up an impressive tally of desirable males not always single. She believes this one will surely save her from despair. She may be a fierce, independent women but deep down she still desires male companionship, and believes that it is the sine que non of a fully fulfilled existence.
But life is not a fairytale. At any moment, the public might be informed by a press release – we regret to inform you that …have decided to separate due to irreconcilable differences or by mutual consent. However delicately it’s worded, the outcome is the same – in an instant the fairytale image is toppled. A prime example would be the joint statement made to the Associated Press by Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux in 2018 on their separation after two years of marriage –the decision was “mutual and lovingly made.” [Ref: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/g18238587/celebrity-breakups-2018/?slide=10] We wonder what could have gone wrong because it all looked so perfect. We forget that we have not eavesdropped on their private conversations, or been privy to their private thoughts. The fairytale image was constructed on photo opportunities and media hype. However, as much as we desire it to be, life is not a fairytale. Relationships are tough at the best of times requiring constant bargaining, compromise and adjustment. The minute one party tires of this work, then there is really nothing the other party can do except concede defeat. Relationships can only thrive when people want to be together and do this sacred work of sacrificing themselves for the other and the union. Why is this work sacred? Because it defies the human tendency to be self-centred and self-serving – wanting things his or her own way.
We persist in feeding the baseless suspicion that other peoples’ lives are more exciting than ours. Our suspicions are based overwhelmingly on pictures. We forget that pictures, though tantalising and provocative, are merely illusions. Truth can never be gleaned from a split second click of the camera. The sooner we become disillusioned, and realise that they are really no different to us – they desire love and stability, and the privacy to develop as individuals and explore the potential of their relationships. To say that celebrities are fair game would be to dehumanise them by removing any vestige of remaining rights they have to privacy just because their careers have thrust them in the public arena. Johnny Depp explained it best when he compared fame to living like a fugitive, “…everything has to be some sort of strategy to get you into the hotel, to get you out of the hotel, to get you into the restaurant, to get you out of the restaurant.”[Ref: https://people.com/celebrity/celeb-confessions-that-will-make-you-never-want-to-be-famous/?slide=2353095#2353095]
We think they have cornered the market on ultimate success because they have achieved such and such. From their perspective, their lives are in flux as in the case with all of us. They too are on a journey and have not yet arrived. There is more that they desire and strive for. Also, there are areas where they struggle, and where they will always come up short. /they are, after all, flawed human beings just like us. By idolising them, we put them on a pedestal which they do not deserve and from which they will inevitably fall.
It is those areas of our lives where we invest the most of ourselves that we will gain the most satisfaction. The time we spend celebrity watching, which may be likened to snacking on crumbs, rather than feeding our souls, is how we deprive ourselves of the soul nourishment we all crave.