Who is the fairest in Hollywood? Celebrities such as Kristen Stewart face heavy moral pressure
It seems the world of celebrity has experienced some strange moral epiphany all of a sudden. With the news that Kristen Stewart could lose her part in the new Snow White film because of her affair with Rupert Sanders comes a new implication about stardom: that having any kind of morality lapse could actually damage your career.
It certainly hasn’t always been this way. Remember when Brad Pitt left his wife for another woman following an on-set affair? His new lover, Angelina Jolie, and his ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston, each got a fair amount of judgment. But Pitt’s own career was left unscathed.
Hugh Grant cheated with a prostitute and is not only still invited to star in films but also air his views on news programmes and at the Leveson Inquiry.
Usher is alleged to have made a heap of indiscretions which include cheating on his wife with her own bridesmaid. Yet he writes impressively self-righteous songs about how hard it is being unfaithful to everyone (poor dude), and the harshest personal criticism he’s received from the public that I can see came when he dared to suggest perhaps Chris Brown should have had “a little bit of remorse” after beating Rihanna. For this, he had to apologise.
Chris Brown’s own career, needless to say, is on top form. Mike Tyson admittedly found his rape conviction to be a temporary setback, but he seems to be enjoying a popular comeback with bit parts in The Hangover movies, dancing on television and advertising energy drinks.
But, hey, it’s not like we never hold our celebrities to account. After all, Rihanna is being admonished for setting a bad example to other victims of partner violence. She, as a survivor, tells the truth about how she feels towards her abusive ex, and because it happens to be compassionate rather than vengeful, we find it too complicated and would prefer not to hear it. But how can we expect her to remain cold and unforgiving towards a man she has actually known and loved in real life, when everywhere you look, the rich and powerful celebrate him as a star?
We know that the ambiguous virtue of ‘coolness’, of being liked as a person, is an essential proponent to showbiz success. How many great careers have been wrecked over an image problem? When Kitty Brucknell appeared on the X Factor she was repeatedly told she was a great talent but she wouldn’t succeed unless she became more likeable.
We also know that the public are not shy about making their voices heard when they decide someone deserves it: the abuse hurled at Brucknell online – everything from transphobic comments about “looking like a man” to outright threats of violence – makes the “haters” that Chris Brown bangs on about look like hardcore Breezy fans.
Some stars really do seem to be fair game for ridicule and hatred. Just last week we saw how Caroline Flack is deemed worthy of an entire feature in a One Direction fan magazine consisting of nothing but personal insults. Jan Moir dedicated a whole Daily Mail article to the evilness of Kristen Stewart, (Moir is not without condemnation for Rupert Sanders, to be fair. “Some husbands are just born clots,” she laments, for all of one sentence, before turning her attention back to lambasting “home-wrecker” Stewart.)
But mean columns in the Daily Mail or One Direction fan magazines are not even the worst of it. Cher Lloyd, a fairly inoffensive singer whose music you may or may not give two hoots about, who has spoken about the rough times she had being bullied as a kid, seems to attract a rather disproportionate amount of hatred considering that she’s never so much as killed a bumblebee to the best of my knowledge. Yet she was pelted with bottles of urine when she sang at V festival. It was so bad she had to leave the stage.
Celebrities will always be hated and judged, of course; it’s part of the job. But when the negativity directed at celebrities like Kristen Stewart or Cher Lloyd is so clearly determined by a personal judgment about them and/or their private lives, to pretend that everyone simply separates the man from the music when they rock up to a Chris Brown concert is naive at best.
The question we need to ask is not whether a celebrity’s private behaviour and personality is relevant to whether they deserve success at our hands or not: we’ve already quite clearly decided that it is. What we really should be asking ourselves is, why do we have a pop culture where sleeping with a film director, or even just being mildly irritating, is a bigger image problem and hindrance to your career than beating up your girlfriend?Tagged in: angelina jolie, brad pitt, Celebrity, Chris Brown, daily mail, jennifer aniston, kitty brucknell, kristen stewart, one direction, Rihanna, Robert Pattinson, rupert sanders, snow white, Transphobia
Recent Posts on Arts
- Introducing Axes: Exclusive Album Stream
- The Xcerts Exclusive Album Stream and Interview: “We definitely feel like it’s our time. We want to step out of the shadow of other bands.”
- Friday Book Design Blog: Collier Books - great paperback design... and some of the worst Narnia covers I've seen
- Pulled Apart By Horses' European tour diary
- Friday Book Design Blog: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter