When it hits the fan, will you still be a fan?

Illustration by Carson McNamara
Illustration by Carson McNamara
Illustration by Carson McNamara
Illustration by Carson McNamara

Idolizing actors, models and musicians is a common aspect of American lifestyle. Many individuals put on blinders and religiously follow celebrities based on talent and characteristics we find attractive.

Some loyal fans are committed to their idol through sexual assault charges, larceny and lawsuit. You can’t help but to ask, why?

Fans often become passive to the racism, sexism and occasional physical abuse that their idols engage in, creating a social atmosphere of tolerance for intolerable actions.

Few people are interested in the fact that Kanye West cheats fans out of thousands of dollars when he doesn’t show up to multiple concerts. Few people pay attention when Tina Fey writes blackface into a “30 Rock” skit.

Many tabloids present such incidents to fans as if they were not only normal occurrences, but celebrated decisions from said artists.

No celebrity is too big to fail. Whether it be an incredibly talented lyricist, actor or comedian that is held in high regard, mistakes are still mistakes. In more extreme situations, it’s questionable to even consider some of these “mistakes” as slip-ups rather than intentional behavior.

When Chris Brown was charged with two separate felonies including charges of assault and making criminal threats, fans rallied behind him. Brown allegedly punched Rihanna in the temple and choked her until she was nearly unconscious, leaving Rihanna with a mouth full of blood.

Brown was placed on probation for five years. Despite his inadmissible actions, his fans’ main concern was the potential delay in Brown’s music production.

How do you confront the truth when someone you admire does something so awful? Celebrity worship is often a means of escape from daily life, but what happens when your idol acts against your moral code?

In an interview with USA TODAY, professor of communications and pop culture expert at Syracuse University Robert Thompson said celebrity worship is more about an artist’s natural talent than their behavior.

“Ultimately it depends on the audience member,” Thompson said. “From a rational standpoint, there have been a lot of people in the entertainment business who have had bad lifestyles but they were really good at what they did.”

Do we let celebrities act in this manner slide because we don’t want to see talent go to waste? Do we prefer to turn a blind eye? We already have trouble grappling with our own mistakes, how are we to hold celebrities accountable for theirs if we cannot do the same for ourselves?

Choosing to ignore unacceptable actions by celebrities only perpetuates and normalizes this behavior. If their choices and words have little to no effect on their fan base, why wouldn’t they continue to act without consequences?

The severe lack of punishment following bad behavior paints those in the limelight as untouchable and above the law.

Fans and casual supporters need to make celebrity behavior a more substantial part of why they support them. Talent should not be the sole reason behind their idolization.

Michael Jackson was accused of molesting children. Woody Allen groomed and married his adopted daughter. Jenny McCarthy blamed vaccines for autism and started a widespread anti-vaccine craze.

The reality is hard to swallow. There must be a correlation between fan support and good behavior in order to create a very clear social standard for acceptable and distasteful behavior.


Emily Himes. Photo by Julie TrippEmily Himes
Emily is a sophomore studying business with a concentration in entrepreneurship. This is her second year working with the CT as an opinion columnist. When she’s not running around with dogs as the owner of Get Fido Fit she’s reading plays, watering her plants or eating food. Lots of food. [email protected]


Carson McNamara. photo by Julie TrippCarson McNamara
Carson McNamara is a senior in Communication Arts who loves contributing to narratives through Editorial Illustration. She drinks a lot of coffee and reads a lot of books for toddlers.
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1 Comment

  1. In the case of Tina Fey writing blackface into “30 Rock,” is the motivation behind that even something that’s being explored? If two characters who are already being portrayed as flawed (hot messes, even) decide to prove a point to one another, one by dressing up in blackface and another by dressing up in “white-woman face,” and the main character, the voice of reason, nearly has a heart attack when she sees them acting in this manner, is that an endorsement of blackface or a critique of society? I’m not a fan of Tina Fey because I’m an idiot who doesn’t care about racism…I’m a fan of hers because I’m not, and neither is she. Interpretation is key.

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