Celebrity status shouldn’t entitle people to special treatment

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TNS

Justin Timberlake at the Trolls Premiere at Village Theater on October 23, 2016 in Westwood, Calif. (Katrina Jordan/Sipa USA/TNS)

By Andrea Anastassov , Columnist

anastassov-andreaCelebrity tabloid headlines never seem to disappoint us with outrageous stories. Some are true and some aren’t, but they’re intriguing nonetheless.

Whether it be another Lindsay Lohan DUI, a Kardashian scandal or another story about Justin Bieber acting like a man-child again, celebrities never stop giving tabloids material.

Sure they’re full of crazy accusations and hard-to-believe stories, but sometimes they do tell the truth.

Justin Timberlake surely had the best of intentions when he posted a selfie to his Instagram early last week of himself voting inside a voting booth in Memphis, Tennessee. The actor and singer resides in California but owns property in his home state, so he flew out for early voting at the polls.

Timberlake was a proud early voter and wanted to encourage others to do their part as citizens as well. His selfie caption expressed that he had flown home just for early voting, so people had no excuse not to vote in their hometowns. 

This seems like an all around good story; Timberlake is upholding his duties as a citizen, while encouraging others to do the same and vote. So what’s wrong with that?

Well, it was all in good fun until people, including Timberlake, realized that his selfie was breaking the law. This new law that took effect in January made taking photos inside voting booths illegal.

The law also prohibits telephone use, conversations on the phone or videography inside the booth. This is actually the case in many states, although the severity of punishments vary.

In Tennessee, it is luckily only a misdemeanor resulting in a small fine and some minimal jail time. But in other states, such as Illinois, it can be taken much more seriously. The law here considers snapping a selfie in the polls to be a felony, which could result in a prison sentence of one to three years.

Lucky for Timberlake, he is currently not under investigation for the incident, and the state is not using their resources to do so. The selfie was later deleted on Timberlake’s Instagram and Tennessee officials reminded voters that they should not be taking photos in the voting booths. In this particular incident, Timberlake was let off the hook, but it seems pretty likely that it’s because of his celebrity status.

Taking photos in the voting booths should not be that big of a deal, and Tennessee’s law doesn’t really call for severe punishment at all. But if a non-celebrity had done the same thing, would it have been dismissed so quickly, or for that matter not even discussed at all?

In society, it seems like celebrities are always getting into trouble. But even more often, they use their status and money to get them out of trouble so quickly that their story is history in a few days. It seems as if their mistakes are always punished much more softly than those of regular civilians.

How many DUIs, possession charges and run-ins with the law have been covered up with power and money? Too many, but unfortunately that’s just the way that society works.

As long as you’ve got power and money, it seems you can buy your way out of almost any problem. Though that wasn’t exactly the case with Timberlake in this instance, this minor issue is emblematic of a much larger problem.

A good lawyer and a good image will get you out of trouble. Add celebrity status to that and you’re golden.

There’s a reason people compare our celebrities to modern day Greek gods and goddesses. They are above citizens; they are worshipped by society and they are almost untouchable.

It’s not fair, but it’s true. With money and power, you can just about do whatever you want to do.

Andrea is a freshman in Media. 

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