The Parasocial Relationships People have with Celebrities is Getting Weird

Taylor Swift

All I see on the internet today is someone asking Taylor Swift for something. 

“@TaylorSwift @TaylorNation Getaway Car got my through some hard times. Could you please play it at the Detroit show?”

I kid you not; this was an actual tweet I saw. And it blew up. People were replying, tagging Taylor Swift and her “Taylor Nation” account, expecting the current most famous singer in the world to stop what she was doing, look at Twitter (which has been proven she doesn’t even run), and say, “Gosh. I sure feel bad for them. Maybe I should change my plans for this random person on the internet!” 

Or let me provide another example. There was a rumor that Taylor Swift was dating the controversial 1975 singer Matty Healy. I don’t even want to list what Matty Healy’s done because most of it is so disgusting- but you’ll find a lot with a quick Google search. Now sure, as a fan of Taylor Swift, my first thought was, “…that’s odd.” Just odd. Because I know I’m in no place to criticize a person, I don’t knows choices. I was disappointed that she could seemingly let Matty’s disturbing comments slide, but I also recognize that I have no idea what happened behind the scenes. I don’t know if the two of them talked beforehand, I don’t know if the stuff Matty said was a publicity stunt (which some of the bits he does, like his band cutting him off every time he speaks, has been proven to be), I don’t know if he apologized to her, I don’t know. And either way, it should be on him to come out and apologize. A group of “fans” sent an open letter to her saying that she “hurt their feelings” for dating him. They called it the #Speakupnow campaign. 

I take a few issues with this. This ties back to society’s unconscious (often conscious) desire to blame women for men’s actions. We saw this with Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. Britney Spears and her over-sexualization from a young age. Amy Winehouse and her addiction, which has been proven that her father played a significant role in the start of her addiction. Society has proven time and time again that we use women to fall back on when there’s a problem, and this is just another example. It would be nice for her to advocate for the right thing. It would be great if everyone advocated for the right thing. But to threaten not to listen to her music and sell concert tickets because of the action of a man who has made no effort to apologize for his actions is misogynistic, and we really should recognize that. Let’s be honest, too- Taylor Swift dating a controversial guy should be the least of our problems. Why don’t we focus on the state of American politics or the downfall of our climate? 

May we also keep in mind that forcing a celebrity to apologize for something doesn’t do much. I’d say a portion of the time, maybe the celebrity doesn’t know who they’re hanging out with is controversial, or what they said was controversial, or they genuinely changed over time. Take Jenna Marbles, for example, who, after being called out for mocking racial stereotypes, apologized on her Youtube channel, and no one has heard from her since due to her hiatus. Now that isn’t my apology to accept, but taking two years off to reflect and grow from her actions seems pretty genuine. But I would say a bigger portion of celebrities “apologize” and then immediately go back to doing the same thing because they know their career is in jeopardy if they don’t apologize. So I think making Taylor Swift aware of Matty Healy’s controversy is fine, but making an open letter for her practically forcing her to apologize won’t do any good.

I think my rant is about why we think we have so much involvement in celebrity’s lives. I mention Taylor Swift so much because I see it the most with her. But this has happened with numerous celebrities. I was thinking of Tom Holland the other day when the new Spiderman movie came out. A few years back, he posted pictures with his girlfriend Nadia Parks, and the internet tore him apart, claiming that he was “supposed to be” dating Zendaya. I get it; I was a huge Tom Holland fan when the first Spiderman movie of his came out, and I wanted him to be with Zendaya too. But I know nothing about his life behind the cameras and I find it rude and inconsiderate to assume that what goes on on camera must be what happens off camera too. Not only is it inconsiderate, but it’s honestly bold to assume that someone with such a large following in the media has to do what you, a fan from home, wants. I really think a psych study should be done on the parasocial relationships with celebrities that people have. 

I, overall, find engagement in celebrity culture too much. It’s like we forget that celebrities really are just people with a lot of attention. Yes, they have a very public platform, and they should advocate for the right thing. But do go as far as to expect them to have some connection with you because you asked them to shout you out at a show or to bash their private relationships causes a stupid controversy that takes away from the real issues that society needs to focus on. And really, not liking what a singer or an actor did won’t stop them from working. Taylor Swift is a multi-millionaire with 12 albums and is selling out venues of 70000 people. She’ll be fine.

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