The Celebrity Struggle for Privacy

In December, Khloe Kardashian confirmed her pregnancy with her boyfriend, Tristan Thompson. She announced the news in a personal Instagram post, which featured a black and white photo of she and Thompson cradling her baby bump. In the caption, Kardashian expressed her desire to have a moment of intimacy during her pregnancy by sharing the news only with family and friends. Kardashian’s decision to keep her pregnancy secret is justifiable, considering that in the months following the initial reports of her pregnancy, tabloids swirled with rumors. It did not help that these reports came just days after it was reported that Kardashian’s younger sister, Kylie Jenner, was pregnant as well. The Kardashian-Jenner family expertly dodged questions regarding the truth behind Kardashian and Jenner’s pregnancies, while the paparazzi scrambled to take photographs of a then allegedly pregnant, Khloe. Even now that she has gone public with the news, Kardashian is still hounded by reporters hoping to gain more information on her impending birth, as well as her family, who has yet to confirm or deny Jenner’s pregnancy. This recent increased attention on the Kardashian-Jenner clan and their new addition (or possible additions) to the family begs the question: what should the public expect from celebrities? Should the public feel entitled to information about the lives of celebrities? Should we expect to be included in moments that are usually private for the average person?

Courtesy: Hollywood Reporter 

A common counterargument that the public raises is that celebrities give up their privacy by becoming celebrities, so they shouldn’t be upset when fans or paparazzi ask them about personal matters. However, I would disagree with this statement. Celebrities are essentially artists doing their jobs and creating art. They perform in plays, model, act, sing, dance, and a myriad of other things, but at the end of the day, they are just people doing their jobs. They are expressing their creativity and sharing that with the world, but they are not required to share anything else with us. Celebrities do not have to tell us the details of their personal lives or their personal relationships if they do not want to. Their private lives should not be invaded by reporters, they should not be pestered by paparazzi, or critiqued by fans; they are average people that happen to be in the spotlight. They should be able to experience life the same way others do, with as much privacy as they desire. For some celebrities, fame is not even a goal in their lives; they may be more focused on the impact of their career and not the secondary elements that come along with their professions. The belief that a celebrity does not deserve privacy because it comes with their job description does not justify the invasion of their privacy. Some celebrities completely alter their way of life just to have some privacy. Celebrity couples such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are two examples that keep their personal lives private. The Knowles-Carter family very rarely conducts interviews and when they do they shy away from discussing their family matters. The public only knows what the family wants them to know. Similarly, Gosling and Mendes have been together for years, but little is known regarding their relationship. Even in the case of the Kardashians, the public should honor their wishes to deal with some aspects of their lives privately. Since the family is known for oversharing, the public expects to know everything about every part of their lives.

Courtesy: Us Weekly

This entitlement that the public feels could be due to American culture, which is driven in part by pop culture. After all, shows such as TMZ and E! News focus solely on celebrity news. Celebrity news is also discussed on talk shows, news broadcasts, and radio shows, which shows that the public consumes enough information about entertainers that these businesses have been successful enough to go on for a period of time. There are dozens of celebrity magazines produced across different mediums, which ironically include entire sections dedicated to photographs of celebrities doing mundane activities, these sections are usually titled “Stars- They’re Just Like Us.” The section is supposed to show the public that celebrities are average people but it contradicts itself because the average person can shop, eat, or go to the park without being photographed. For instance, Gabrielle Union voiced her frustration with being photographed while shopping for tampons. Female celebrities become headlines if they leave the house without makeup and both genders face criticism if they go to the beach without having a “perfect” body. This search for privacy and normalcy is something that celebrities yearn for. They want to be able to have children, experience love and heartbreak and struggle without constantly having a lens on them.

Courtesy: People

Our various forms of entertainment are not the only element of society that illustrates our desire to know about our idols. Social media is another tool that is used for fans to interact with celebrities. One could argue that social media facilitates the expectation for celebrities to share their lives with the public, since it allows them to interact with fans in a variety of ways, including photos and live-streamed videos. The immediacy that is associated with a social media post can affect the expectations of fans as well. Since celebrities can instantly share information with others through their platforms, the public expects immediate answers to their burning questions, which they may not always receive.  

If we’re being honest, everyone gets curious about the lives of the celebrities at some point in time. It’s human nature to be curious, and our culture is so driven by the pop culture that it is extremely easy to find yourself caught up in tabloid gossip. However, when you critique or judge a celebrity’s life remember that they are human just like us. Whether a celebrity leads a private life or shares everything with the public, we should respect their wishes and grant them some privacy, while also remembering that they owe us nothing.