In light of the Kristen Stewart scandal, and the fantastic article that Jodi Foster wrote in her defense, I have been thinking about my current levels of fame (not really any at all), and why I hope that I never reach quite that level of celebrity.
1. I hate public scrutiny. Even before Kristen Stewart made the mistake of tromping all over Hollywood with her director of the blockbuster Snow White and the Seven Huntsman, she was hounded by paparazzi. In most of her tabloid photos, she looks miserable: hair bedraggled, face down, frowning behind huge sunglasses. It’s hard to envy her. Now that I’m back in my hometown, I feel frustrated that I will probably run into people I know when I run to the grocery store, which means I feel obligated to look half-way presentable. If there was someone waiting at the grocery store to snap my picture and sell it for lots of money, I would probably begin to feel homicidal.
2. I stick my foot in my mouth with some regularity. Can you imagine being in an interview and having to be both charming and coherent, without once letting any statement come out wrong? Assuming that the reporter doesn’t take your words out of context, that is, to make a calamity where one didn’t actually exist. I’m still haunted by things I said in high school and college that I would pay good money to take back–dear god, if I had a national platform, I’m sure I would never be able to let go of the slip-ups and embarrassing quotes I’d produce.
3. My family and friends would tell-all. My mother, as I’ve mentioned, can talk for hours about me. She’ll drop humiliating secrets with relish, adding her own spin on things that sometimes borders on out-and-out lies. Thank God no one has any real interest in me, or I would be putting out fires of rumors and assumptions spread by my mother. My husband is less malicious, but he also has no concept of what words are coming out of his mouth until they’re already said. I can only imagine the kinds of things I would be reading about in the gossip magazines.
4. I don’t have to navigate paparazzi when I’m walking or driving. When I see images of stars being followed with cameras stuck in their faces, I can feel my blood pressure rising in sympathy. It looks horribly invasive and scary. To top it off, every once in a while a celebrity is in court because they bumped a paparazzi with their car. I am a cautious driver, which means I would probably never be able to go anywhere in fear of someone hurling themselves in front of me.
5. National media has no interest in unearthing my dirty laundry. To see mistakes broadcast on every news site and TV station must be horribly painful. However, it must be equally hard for the partners on the other side of these scandals, too. Robert Pattinson has to face his partner’s betrayal everywhere he goes. That’s not cool. Neither did Sandra Bullock or Elin Nordegran, Tiger Wood’s ex-wife, do anything to deserve to be publicly humiliated, and yet they had to watch women come out of the woodworks claiming to have slept with their husbands. I wonder at what line the American public will begin to turn away and say, “You know what, that’s none of my business.”
It is easy to brush these problems aside with a statement like, “With that much money, they’re asking for it.” However, at that moment, the celebrity becomes even more objectified, into someone less than human, someone without basic rights. Did Kristen Stewart mess up? Absolutely. No one forced her to get in a car with her director, or to conduct her business in full view of the public. And yet, I can’t help but be very grateful that I’m not her, because she is paying a high price for a mistake that should only affect her, her family, and her director’s family. Not us. And yet, the media and the public, myself included, seem to think that we’re entitled to know. I believe the short answer is: we’re not.