The intrusive side of Hollywood romance

By Maaike Niekerk, Staff Writer

It’s an infatuation; keeping up with the drama about your favorite stars, learning about their romance history and whoever they might be pursuing next in the dating scene. Many say celebrities serve to entertain, after all.

Of course, with celebrity drama, there’s only one way for us to come by this information since we don’t know these people in real life. It’s easy to forget, but everything we learn about celebrities first goes through the critical lens of the media.

With the constant hunger for more information on the most popular celebrity couples, it’s no wonder why some organizations are willing to go so far for footage and interviews. Celebrity drama keeps them in business by keeping the audience entertained.

However, intruding in an actor’s life can go too far. The media can play a drastic role by chasing down stars for stories and asking intrusive questions for the inside scoop. However, fans are enforcing these actions by restricting the people they idolize from a private life for their personal entertainment.

Molly Sheahan, freshman in LAS, agreed, saying there is more than one way that celebrity relationships are harmed.

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“I have seen relationships (get) ridiculed on the internet for a very long time,” Sheahan said.

The internet is the way that so many of us get access to information on our favorite star couples. However, we must recognize how we get said information.

Naturally, a lot of inside romance news comes from the celebrity couples themselves. There can be many motivating factors for releasing private information such as establishing relatability, maintaining popularity or simpler reasons.

Chris Evans (not that Chris Evans), professor in Media, said one of the reasons might be that exposure benefits the celebrities themselves.

“If a celebrity is voluntarily putting information out to the public … it’s probably for a number of reasons, but one of them is certainly profit,” Evans said.

Evans clarified that although celebrities can be especially intentional with what they show to the public, fans may not pick up on it. This can be useful for PR stunts or relationships that are specifically curated for stars to gain fans and fame.

“High-profile people who intentionally put themselves in the public eye are going to know that when they go into public, or allow something to be seen in public, it is likely going to be picked up by someone,” Evans said.

Most of what is seen on social media regarding celebrity relationships has been recorded by paparazzi or gossip columns who are known for being overly intrusive toward celebrities in the past.

Shehzad Bajowala, freshman in Engineering, said that “sometimes the information they’re trying to dig up is useless.”

Bajowala specifically cited the incident of Princess Diana’s death, as she was killed in a car accident while being chased by cameramen.

“There’s no question that the paparazzi go too far,” Bajowala said.

However, it is important to remember that paparazzi are not representative of the entirety of the media world.

“Paparazzi are a different breed from the average or more mainstream journalist,” Evans said.

Emily Hays, a reporter for Illinois Public Media, spoke on how paparazzi can be seen as giving the world of reporting somewhat of a bad reputation.

“Sometimes it feels like everybody is very distrustful of how I will represent them,” Hays said, speaking on her work involving reporting about structural inequality.

Hays also mentioned that professional journalists have a much better understanding of consent when working with celebrities than the paparazzi do. 

Since a lot of information collected by paparazzi on celebrity couples is not necessarily taken willingly, the issue of accuracy must also be drawn into question.

“People are very distrustful of media,” Hays said. “And there are some very legitimate reasons for that.”

Once this media is released, the major factor affecting celebrities’ romances is the way the public reacts to it. A common behavior of celebrity fans is to ship a pair of performers or celebrities that they like, forcing the two into a relationship in their minds.

“I believe that shipping celebrities in real life is definitely overstepping many boundaries,” Sheahan said. “It’s not up to the consumer of the media to insert themselves into the lives of celebrities, and many people take it to a level that is extremely toxic.”

Shipping of fictional characters within shows or films is also extremely common.

“Fictional characters can be more open to interpretation … Once it starts to cross into the real person’s life is where the real issue begins,” Sheahan added.

Bajowala spoke on how the act of shipping real people may have an extremely negative effect on celebrities and their relationships on a very personal level.

“If you’re constantly trying to put a label on a relationship, or trying to assert a relationship between two people … that can just defeat the purpose of trying to get to know someone,” Bajowala said.

While audiences and fans of mainstream celebrities could clearly stand to take a step back, the media also holds a certain responsibility of what is responsible to put out for the world to see.

“The press needs to be aware of what they’re choosing to amplify,” Evans said.

Amplifying relationships of people we don’t even know on a personal level seems much more serious when put into perspective. Celebrity romances may be better left private even though the public shows no signs of letting up on their obsessions.

“I think people just need to understand boundaries better and start treating celebrities like they’re real people,” Sheahan said.


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