The people we put on pedestals

Sanne Peek, Contributing Writer

Why do we feel so connected to celebrities? Considering a majority of fans have never met the people they idolize, the question seems valid. The most contact many fans get is to be a number in their favorite singer’s monthly listener count or just one of their idols’ millions of subscribers, yet still we feel like we know these people.

On the newest note of tabloid news, comedian John Mulaney has had quite a bit of controversy recently, and his audience collectively chimed in with ideas about the situation. The amount of TikTok videos I’ve seen talking about the life of the thirty-nine year old is insane. In case you didn’t hear about the controversy, here’s a brief play-by-play: Mulaney is best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live and his comedy specials on Netflix. A majority of his skits alluded to his love of his wife and dog Petunia, and how he did not want kids. After going to rehab for a drug addiction, he divorced his wife Anna Marie Tendler, started dating Olivia Munn- who is pregnant with his child- and worst of all, he doesn’t have Petunia anymore. His fans and the public exploded; fans were outraged by the situation as they saw the integrity of the “only white man [they] could trust” unravel right before their eyes. Many fans were concerned that Mulaney’s actions didn’t align with the image he’d previously established; that his “normal” self had mysteriously vanished. But that’s just the thing:, we don’t know what is normal for celebrities: we see exactly what they want us to see. It’s not them being secretive because even the most open celebrities could have a scandal like this. We don’t know celebrities, even if we pretend to.

The Mulaney melodrama is certainly not the first of its kind and will undoubtedly not be the last instance in which celebrity drama like this will occur; however, it always seems invalidating to a celebrity’s fan base whenever a scandal like this comes out of the woodwork. Fans are accustomed to knowing about their favorite celebrities- sometimes too much. Inevitably, a story breaks and everything a fan thought they knew about this person is lost. Instances like this just emphasize the divide between the people we place up onto pedestals and the people looking up.

I don’t think that people have obsessions with these famous people. I think the reason we think we know them is because they reveal parts of their lives to us. Comedians like Mulaney draw a lot of their skits from personal life. We get an inside look: in a sense they’re holding the camera and giving us a documentary-like view into their personal lives, but we don’t know how much of the camera view they’re really cutting off. We get a miniscule window into certain celebrities’ lives and then think we know them because that’s what they want us to think- they want to be relatable to us, the general public. Comedians talk about everyday mundanities that their audience can laugh about. Musicians infuse their music with their personal feelings: feelings a lot of people can relate to. YouTubers vlog about their lives and their everyday activities that we all share. A main aspect of a celebrity’s success is how relatable they are to the public, and I think that is why we get upset when drama spills out from our favorite celebrity’s life.

We all want to relate to people; I believe it’s a part of being human. When we see these successful celebrities relating to us and opening up about their lives, it’s only expected for the public to support or even idolize them. Fans and the public can all agree that the Mulaney situation is messy to say the least, but perhaps something worthwhile can be found within that mess: the cold truth that we aren’t as close to these multi-millionaire successors as we’d like to believe.