Monday, April 8, 2013

The one where I get really personal

It's time for another edition of Let's Stand Around the Water Cooler And Talk Crap About Reality TV Stars. TV show in question tonight is Teen Mom -- or, rather, its latest incarnation, Teen Mom 2. The 16 & Pregnant spin-off follows four girls from the original show, but the one I particularly abhor is Kailyn. Kailyn has had a rough life, and when the show first started, her own parents and baby daddy were so godawful that I was willing to cut her some slack. And she has done a pretty good job of raising her son, despite the cruddy hand life dealt her. But I stopped rooting for Kailyn when she said something that struck a particular nerve with me. After breaking up with aforementioned baby daddy, she starts dating a new guy, Jordan. When it comes up that Jordan still lives with his parents while Kailyn is on her own, she remarks, "You don't know how easy you've got it."

Um, excuse me? I'm a college graduate living with my parents while working-full time, both at a day job and on a novel, hoping to write full-time one day. Every single day, I stress about money: Will I make enough to move out on my own? When will it happen? Will I ever accomplish my goals? If Kailyn or anyone else spent a day in my life, they would know that I don't have it easy. Sure, I don't have the same struggles as she does, and it's unfortunate that so many people in her life have let her down. But even though this girl isn't even aware of my existence, it felt like a personal insult.

Back when I first started blogging (well, on blogspot anyway), I wrote about emotionally connecting with an audience. Why do people care so much about celebrities we don't even know? I started off talking about Casey Anthony; sure, it's understandable that people would get outraged when they believe someone got away with murder. But why did people get so damn invested in a case where they didn't know anyone personally? I don't know exactly what it was that drew me in to the case -- maybe it was because Casey isn't that much older than me, or that I've always wanted kids, or that the entire case was (and still is) shrouded in mystery. The other day, after several months of obsessively watching Bones, I told my dad that I probably connected with that show because of the Casey Anthony case -- we'll never know for sure what happened to Caylee, and chances are nobody will ever be held legally accountable for her death. But it's comforting to sit down for an hour and watch murderers (albeit fictional ones) get caught and pay for what they did.

Plus David Boreanaz is very, um, not ugly. (source)

Our culture has a love/hate relationship with celebrities and celebrity obsession. You can't go to the grocery store without seeing the faces of various actors or musicians splashed across the covers of magazines at the checkout lanes. Even how-to articles within the magazines use celebrity examples -- get Rhianna's smoky eyes! Get Carrie Underwood's abs! Get Selena Gomez's flattering hairdo! (Not gonna lie though, I'd kill to look like Selena Gomez. Just putting it out there.)

Heck, I even named my blog after a line in one of her songs. (source)

These celebrities wouldn't be so visible and talked about if we didn't connect with them in some form or fashion. Yet any time someone gets legitimately offended at something they do, or even gets overly attached to them, they're labeled as strange or obsessive. Just today, I found an article about Drake Bell criticizing Justin Bieber via twitter. But most of his criticisms were directed toward the fans and how crazy they are. And they are crazy -- sometimes a bit too crazy for my taste. But they wouldn't be so crazy if Justin, his music, and his story didn't resonate with them so deeply.

In May 2012, the BBC produced a documentary called Music Saved My Life. I haven't watched it, but just the title is powerful. This is why so many teens and tweens get personally offended when people criticize the object of their affections. I've heard so many stories of singers and bands helping people through difficult situations -- from seemingly minor things like losing a friend or boyfriend to deeper things like the death of a parent or mental illness. You never, ever, ever know how an artist has affected someone. And if you insult the people they connect with, you could be indirectly insulting them.

There's a quote going around twitter and other social networking sites right now -- unfortunately, I don't know who to attribute it to, and there are even different versions. But I think this one sums things up quite nicely: "Many people expend tremendous energy to hide their pain, poor health, or problems just to function in this world. Be kind, we're all fighting some kind of battle."

Maybe I need to remember that one too.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I have to admit, I was kind of invested in the Casey Anthony case, too. I wanted to know the truth behind the mystery and people's motivations behind horrific or fantastic actions always fascinate me. Maybe that's why I love storytelling. Cool quote, BTW, wonder who started it.