Privacy is such an odd term these days, isn’t it? I can do a quick search to find out your address, how much you paid for your house, a photo of your kids, and what you liked on Facebook last week. Even so, there is a definite firewall of privacy that blocks especially painful information for private citizens. Suicides, affairs, bankruptcy, and so on all become sacred and untouchable when they happen to neighbors, friends, and family.
So why is it when it happens to those in the public eye that we feel ownership, even obligation to comment? What makes it suddenly okay to pass judgment and call them “fucking losers” or “privileged trash” or whatever suddenly seems appropriate as a way of venting bitterness towards those who have created a career in the public eye?
It’s easy to dismiss those who have played characters or had their photographs taken at various venues and galas as flighty or shallow. That fact is, that life is bigger than a paparazzo’s photo or the latest theatrical success. Children attend school. Life partners have arguments over household chores. Friends call to say hi. Parents love. Sadness falls. Nails are gnawed over life decisions no matter who you are. No matter how many red carpets you’ve walked or interviews you’ve given.
Sure. Absolutely. Celebrity is addictive and showy and envy inducing. But our jealousy at sparkly gift bags and flash photos doesn’t mean that the person — PERSON — behind the celebrity deserves to be vilified, exposed, denigrated, especially after death.
You want to make a snarky comment about addiction? About “He deserved what he got”? Consider your familiars. Consider yourself.
Has anyone in your circle of friends or family ever had a gambling problem? A food addiction? Carried on a sexual affair that endangered the physical safety of a spouse? Gotten lap-band surgery to control weight? Driven while tipsy? Drunk? Showed off manliness (or hard-core womanliness) with a firearm? Worked overtime when you weren’t asked to? Filled up on alcoholic beverages until they passed out? (oh, haha! how funny!) Tried to quit smoking? Again? And again? Sworn by a wake-and-bake routine? Shoplifted for fun — especially as an adult? Gotten angry to the point of lashing out when “real life” interfered with a video game? Worked out to the point of missing a menstrual cycle? Stayed on Facebook well after your bedtime? Calmed anger or nervousness through shopping? Cut themselves to feel pain? And then there’s porn. Ever choose to stay in to watch it when you kinda-sorta wanted to go out?
Addiction is a manipulative master. Each of us responds differently to triggers that give us joy even as we know — we KNOW — they will also give us pain. Even great talents. Even feted celebrities. We all deserve some semblance of privacy. Even more, when we end up digging a hole too deep to climb out of, our families, our children, deserve to mourn with the very best memories they can hold. We as the public — as people — don’t own other people or their actions. Even celebrities. Perhaps especially celebrities.
Rest in peace. And peace to those left behind to mourn.