At times, I almost feel sorry for celebrities. Okay, fair enough most of them have got millions of dollars and beach houses in Malibu and great clothes and worldwide fame (the list continues). But even with all that, there’s one thing they don’t have. Privacy.
I can be quite a private person. I love my friends and family, sure. But every now and then I need time to myself, or I go insane. I don’t share the intimate details of my private life with everybody, and there are some things I’d rather keep under wraps than have the whole world knowing. I’m sure that you – whoever you are – feel the same. But celebrities? This often isn’t an option for them.
At this point, people will begin to argue with me. “It’s what they give up when they get famous!” they’ll shout, or explain that “they knew they had it coming and did it anyway.” This could well be true. But the extent to which the public feel a public figure’s private life is their business is starting to worry me just a little. In this age of Hello! Magazine and Celebrity Big Brother, people can’t get enough. And maybe that’s not such a good thing.
I’ll admit that if I see a magazine by the checkout with bold red writing telling me that X has cheated on Y and got married to Z’s half brother A who is shagging B (and the story goes on) I might show a little bit of interest. I mean, I’m from Devon. Nothing like that happens here, so it’s interesting when it happens to other people. But there’s a limit.
Take example A – North West. No, I’m not talking about the direction, nor am I talking about the airline. I do of course mean Kim and Kanye’s baby daughter. The name of this child was kept secret for a long, long time. I don’t follow the Kardashians at all – for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what a single one of them is famous for – but even I had names being thrown at me in every direction. And all I could really think was two things. Firstly, who even cares? It’s just a name (though I’m going to take this opportunity to say that North West could be the coolest name ever). And secondly, why is it anybody’s business? It’s not! The parents of that baby may well have lived their lives in the spotlight, but maybe North won’t want to. And she shouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, that’s not a decision she’ll probably ever be able to make. When it comes to a child, the public really should have no right to involve themselves in that kind of business. Besides, let’s face it, that poor kid’s going to have enough on her plate growing up in that family. No pressure, right?
Secondly, the more recent example B – Cory Monteith. The ‘Glee‘ star passed away two days ago in his Vancouver hotel room. There you go – that one sentence. That is all any member of the public needs to know. But apparently I’m wrong. I read an article today from which I learned that the star’s autopsy will be sped up – and I’m quoting this directly from that article – “due to the intense public interest”. I mean, really. Are they serious? That information shouldn’t be sped up for the public. If it were to be sped up for anything, it should be for his family to know. His friends. Not some 14 year old ‘gleeks’ half way around the world that will in all honesty forget about it in a fortnight. I honestly find this disturbing.
This year, I studied media law as one of my legal modules at University. One of the first things we learned was that there was a difference between what the public was interested in, and what was in public interest. They are two very different things. Here’s an example – the public might be interested in that topless photo of Kate Middleton that surfaced a while ago. However, the threat of international nuclear warfare unless everybody in the UK stops buying stamps for a week would be in the public interest. These two scenarios do not cross over at any point. Mr Monteith’s health and circumstances surrounding his death may be interesting to the public, but those facts are not in the public interest and, as far as I’m concerned, have no obligation to be splashed across newspapers, magazines and websites.
What people seem to miss out on is that celebrities are people. People with a lot of money, dream careers and nice cars, but people none the less. It is not the right of the rest of the world to know that John Travolta’s son died, how Heath Ledger passed away or that Pierce Brosnan’s wife is no longer with us. The name of Beyonce’s next baby or even what kind of mileage Taylor Swift gets out of her car – it’s not our concern. And the fact that some people so strongly believe it is… it’s not a good thing.