What do we expect from our celebrities? It’s a question that comes up every time a scandal steals our attention from the regular programming.
Primarily, we look to celebrities for entertainment. It’s always been a form of escape to binge-watch on a series or to go on a movie marathon. Every time we open up our Spotify during a long ride home, it’s our way of tuning out the traffic. When it’s just too much to handle what’s going on in real life, personally and politically, we find refuge in showbiz.
Lately, this has changed a bit. We’ve realized that these people we turn to for escape can cross into our reality. It’s hit a high because of social media. The role of the celebrity is now changing rapidly. It’s in a flux between mere entertainer to an influential personality. Celebrities have become politicians. Some of them are spokespersons for big advocacies. The command and reach of their social media accounts are sometimes the best way to get a socio-political message across, more than a traditional speech.
Still, the fact that celebrities can be role models is why it’s always been dangerous to watch without a caveat. The proliferation of the aspirational qualities of celebrities (perfect skin, gorgeous hair, toned physique) has contributed to several issues about beauty standards. We still live in an age where magazine covers struggle to define diversity and gender fluidity. Just this year, a major magazine banned the use of the term “anti-aging” to take on our obsession with youth. We saw how Xander Ford became famous for being ridiculed for what he looked like pre-surgery, only to find the haters remain after leaving the operating room. These are the same people who try to take down Arci Muñoz for her nose surgery.
We have looked to these stars for perfection, only to be brutal when they don’t fulfill our high standards. It’s like a disturbed form of entertainment we’ve crafted outside the usual channels.
No matter how much we’ve struggled to tell the story of reality and humanity, through vlogs and reality shows, this need for perfection persists and not just in their looks. Despite social media allowing us to glimpse into their lives off-camera, making them relatable, we insist on being too critical. Just yesterday, Kris Aquino had to remind a netizen that “being a good example” doesn’t really matter if you eat with your son on the bed like everyone else.
But the thing about celebrities is that they are never created in a bubble. There is always an entire team behind them. There are always producers, scriptwriters, and publicists helping them create the persona they want to project. Sure, it’s still in touch with their private self but one cannot completely fault a celebrity for a feature gone awry. It’s what we pointed out during the jump rope video of Andrea Torres where she was objectified. We need to be critical of how who creates our celebrities, and the people who prop them up before the cameras roll.
We can always find fault in our celebrities and some have admitted that they are wrong. But we still insist that they should be above this. The excuse that their humanity is still in the way, is still unacceptable to some. We hope for them to be people that others can look up to. But what message do we convey when we constantly criticize them for being just like us?