Matthew Moore, 2/14/14
Not too long ago I posted a blog entry about the effects of toxicity and how it can be a very good thing when it is properly focused, and very damning to the people expressing their toxicity. You can see that article here.
Why do I bring this up? I was reminded of it while browsing one of my classmate’s blogs. I happened upon one post from Everything Fandom and Entertainment that brought to my attention the idea of the celebrity persona, and the toxicity that seems to come part and parcel with it. The celebrity persona, at least how I use it, is defined as the representation of them self they put forth as a means to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible to maximize the potential fan-base for highest profit. This is a way to represent your self not only online, but for almost everything in your life. The down side is that, usually, the celebrity uses this persona so much that a problem can arise where people have a hard time distinguishing between the actual person, and the persona they put forth. Idol celebrities tend to be particularly vulnerable to this side effect.
The celebrity that instigated the source of the article was Justin Bieber. A petition has reached enough signatures to warrant the attention of President Obama to remove Bieber from American soil and deport him to Canada. Early in her blog post it is indicated that, “The once beloved Justin Bieber is now having his fans turn on him, as well as the rest of the United States.” Bieber has had problems with his social standing for sometime. From my own experience, there are times that I cannot go a month without hearing about someone complaining about Bieber, and like many idols, people have been complaining and generally expressing terrible negativity toward Bieber since day one.
I understand that Biber is in violations of laws that should warrant his deportation, but I believe what bothers me most about the petition is not even that so many Americans want Bieber deported, but rather why they want him deported. The petition says, “We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture.” The problem the people have with Bieber in this case is not that he was drunk, high, and driving without a license, but how that reflects poorly on American pop culture. American pop-culture has never shown its self as something to be proud of in my opinion, primarily because of all the toxicity that it tends to generate in people for no real reason, case in point with Bieber. Here people are upset over violation of a number of laws, but this is not the first time Bieber has been savaged by not only the media, but the general public before. In fact, I believe the first time I heard about Justin Bieber, was someone mocking and or insulting him.
Considering the negativity surrounding so many elements of American pop culture, it has just become common place to hate a celebrity figure for reasons that are based on generalizations about a person, despite evidence to the contrary. I remember one of the first insults I heard lobbed at Bieber, for example, was an accusation of homosexuality. At best, this comes off as a petty snipe at a celebrity who can’t defend themself, both due to lack of physical presence and fear of public backlash to calling out a fan. At worst, it comes off as a homophobic and systemic of larger social issues that the negativity toward celebrities obfuscates and distracts the general population from.