If you've ever wondered what it's like to be famous, you probably envisioned a life filled with glitz, glamour and enough money to weasel yourself out of anything life throws at you. I, too, was once guilty of this mindset, ignorant to the plethora of repercussions that come along with fame.
As natural born consumers, we have seen it all when it comes to celebrities. We've seen them lash out, break down and seemingly go insane before our eyes. We have witnessed the downfall of almost every big name in the entertainment industry, yet somehow "fame" is never the attributed cause. It's always either an "arbitrary" chemical imbalance or a "suddenly developed" drug addiction that takes blame, but few recognize that these are more than merely unfortunate side effects to fame.
The industry has done a commendable job of sustaining the allure of stardom ever since Hollywood became a thing in the early 1900's. Walking a red carpet while donning a pricey brand name gown and swathed in bijoux was and remains the most associated scenario that comes to mind when a person thinks "celebrity." However, if susceptibility to depression, blatant drug abuse and developing mental illness isn't telling enough, what will it take for us to open our eyes to the real side of fame?
In a recent interview with NME, pop-star Justin Bieber touched upon the paralyzing aspects of his fame. When asked if he ever feels depressed, he said: "All the time. And I feel isolated. You're in your hotel room and there are fans all around, paparazzi following you everywhere and it gets intense. When you can't go anywhere or do anything alone, you get depressed. I just want people to know I'm human. I'm struggling just to get through the days." He also admitted that he "wouldn't wish this [fame] upon anyone."
It's truly mind-boggling to think that the luxuries we have as common folk, like going to the market in sweats with no makeup on or grabbing lunch with some friends, can be a celebrity's biggest demise. What is life, even, if it lacks free-will?
A disheartening yet prevalent part of today's culture is anticipating the downfall of a celebrity for the sake of catchy headlines. In reality, this type of "news" only makes for shallow headlines with no depth and expresses no real concern towards the person being affected. It seems as though our generation — especially the youth — has developed an obsession with glamorizing those who go rogue before our eyes. As if consumerism hasn't contributed enough, tabloids and paparazzi build careers as professional instigators who seemingly live to fabricate stories out of thin air. Money is clearly the motive here, even if it's at the cost of a celeb's reputation.
Money is arguably one of the major factors why people are consumed by the idea of fame at all. It's the cringe-worthy "money can buy happiness" mindset that leads people to blindly believe that their freedom is worth the cost, but what happens when you end up in a multi-million dollar mansion with every commodity you could've ever dreamed of with no one to share it with? Is fame worth the loss of every cherished relationship you've ever had? Is it worth your privacy, sanity or sense of security?
Megan Fox seemed to disagree when she said in an interview with Esquire that, "They all think we [celebrities] should shut the fuck up and stop complaining because you live in a big house or you drive a Bentley so your life must be so great. What people don't realize is that fame [is] whatever your worst experience in high school [was], when you were being bullied by those 10 kids. Fame is that, but on a global scale, where you're being bullied by millions of people constantly."
Several celebrities aside from Bieber and Fox have also touched on the subject, including today's It Girl Jennifer Lawrence who claims she's "just a normal girl and a human being." She told Vogue: "I haven't been in this [industry] long enough to feel like this is my new normal. I'm not going to find peace with it." Both Lawrence and Bieber's inclination to make it clear that they're "just human" is harrowing. How and why is it justifiable to treat people like anything but?
While Australian pop singer Sia Furler's way of dealing with fame is to hide her face to avoid recognition; infamous stars like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes know all too well about what it's like to be under the radar. All three celebs were millennial childhood icons who grew up in the limelight and all three fell through the cracks in quite public ways. Is it even possible to think of the year 2007 without the image of a deeply distraught and bald Britney Spears popping into your head? What about Lindsay Lohan, whose patterns of DUIs, arrests and reported drug abuse were enough to solidify her as bat-sh*t cray cray, inducting her into an unofficial Hollywood hall of fame for reckless celebrities. The most perplexing of them all is Amanda Bynes, now most associated with the seemingly comical, yet extremely odd and questionable behavior that garnered nation-wide attention in 2012, following her blatant downward spiral toward mental illness. These unfortunate realities were arguably induced through lack of freedom and excessive attention. There's only so much scrutiny a human being can handle.
So why do these stars do it? Why do people take on fame when we all know what it looks like to fall for the trap that is becoming a celebrity, only to unlock a life that's irrevocable?
Whatever reasons people come up with; I'll likely never see eye to eye. I want to be able to leave my house looking less than picture-perfect because I just spent eight hours binge-watching Netflix. I want to be able to regularly fluctuate 15 pounds without putting myself at risk of nasty headlines and anonymous online ridicule. No sum of money is worth it enough to give these luxuries up. I guess I'm guilty of cherishing my freedom.
Reach Contributor Claudia Dayani here.