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'Pedestaling' Celebrities with Fair & Misplaced Compassion
Anne Heche & Brittney Griner
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Are celebrities entitled or do our obsessions with them distort our perspectives concerning their values and ethics and our own?
Every day, the public lives of famous and influential figures in entertainment are weaponized for publicity. In recent years, their most insignificant activities and important milestone have received media coverage. We don’t just platform and pedestal A-list artists and athletes these days, we increasingly politicize them.
We don’t just platform and pedestal A-list artists and athletes these days, we increasingly politicize them.
The most apolitical figures become integral players in advocacy and activism and they participate knowingly and sometimes not. Regardless, celebrities are no longer just brand ambassadors. The second they step outside they can become fodder for political pundits and not just gossip columns. We also cancel public figures who are widely celebrated and deemed beyond reproach until they aren’t.
It is not a stretch to say that in America, we REALLY adore our celebrities. Serious pop culture aficionados present a spectrum of fan obsession behavior. This includes deep and consummate admiration, increasingly normalized idolization, and even the obsessive addiction disorder known as celebrity worship syndrome, which can and has often led to dire consequences.
This includes deep and consummate admiration, increasingly normalized idolization, and the obsessive addiction disorder known as celebrity worship syndrome, which can and has often led to dire consequences.
Last week, actress Anne Heche who has publicized her life-long struggle with unresolved childhood trauma and related substance abuse issues, was the driver behind two car accidents in Los Angeles. Minutes after the first, she resisted help. She then sped off erratically at high speeds.
Heche continued to recklessly negotiate the narrow residential neighborhood streets of Mar Vista in her Mini Cooper and ultimately crashed into a single-family home in the affluent part of town where she lives. The occupant escaped serious injury but lost their home after Heche’s car burst into flames. More than five dozen LAFD firefighters responded to the scene of the accident.
Because of the severity of her injuries, Heche was not issued a breathalyzer test and was instead rushed to a hospital in critical condition. By all accounts, she is lucky to be alive and is now intubated in stable condition after arriving at the emergency room. A criminal investigation is presumably pending and reports of her consumption of alcohol during a podcast media event preceding the crash are flooding the internet.
Heche’s fans began to offer condolences regarding her condition and praised her work as an A-list performing artist. NPR, not known for covering celebrities, reflected on the polarized views shared by the public on social media.
Similarly, the public is divided regarding the recent conviction of pro basketball player Brittney Griner. Griner was sentenced last week to 9 years in prison by the Russian Federation for smuggling a very small amount of cannabis oil into the country. The athlete, for all intents and purposes, is a political pawn whose imprisonment has been leveraged for a potential prisoner swap.
The former Olympian and WNBA star has also been condemned for not standing for the National Anthem during games in recent seasons. While labeled unpatriotic, Griner elected to boycott the anthem to w drawing attention to persistent social injustices facing marginalized Americans and particularly the plight of people of color who continue to be subjected to police brutality.
The attention and purported privilege afforded Ms. Grimes has been touted as a double standard by both her supporters and critics. And finally, the sentiment of others is that Ms. Griner deserves to be punished by incarceration for traveling abroad with illicit substances. Indeed, most people are pretty careful about contraband, especially when traveling internationally to autocratic nations. But it seems that due to racial bias, Heche has already received a relatively surprising amount of support despite nearly killing herself and other people. I wish her the best but this is no time to celebrate her acting career.
But it seems that due to racial bias, Heche has already received a relatively surprising amount of support despite nearly killing herself and other people. I wish her the best but this is no time to celebrate her acting career.
Griner should have been more prudent, but Heche actually endangered life. I hope the WNBA star returns soon and that the actress recovers and gets the help she needs but as media consumers and fans, we need to be more objective and critical when passing judgment. TBC…