A spike of interest in celebrities’ lives comes when they have done something that catches the eyes and ears of everyone around. Whether it is not re-signing their contract for your favorite show, announcing wedding plans or releasing their new album, it often catches more of your attention. However, when that something casts negative light on their beliefs or society as a whole, speculation arises and the issue is blasted to everyone.
In recent times, there have been multiple celebrities guilty of taking it too far. Most recently, Nicki Minaj has been under scrutiny for the release of her new song, Only You. The video has Minaj as a dictator of sorts in command of soldiers wearing an insignia of “YM” standing for “Young Money.” Supposedly the music video is supposed to replicate Sin City and a cartoon, Metalocalypse. However, many think that she is glorifying Nazism. All of the imagery is played in black and white except a red banner holding the letters YM in an all to familiar arrangement that appears on both ends above the dictator, Minaj, while commanding the soldiers. Although she has been heavily criticized, the artist stands behind her video defending it on twitter.
Another artist who was scrutinized for being insensitive about the events around the holocaust was Justin Bieber. Last year while visiting Amsterdam, Bieber went to the Anne Frank house. It wasn’t unusual that he visited the house, it was what he left behind. Signing the guest book, Bieber wrote, “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” The message has been viewed by many as self-serving and narcissistic on Bieber’s behalf. However, some of his fans acknowledged the fact that before him, they had not known who Anne Frank was.
Another controversial time for celebrities is Halloween or better yet, what they choose to represent during that time. Chris Brown and Julianne Hough have fallen under the magnifying glass for their costume choices. In 2012, Chris Brown decided to dress as a terrorist for Halloween. For a party, he and his crew wore turbans and carried riffles. Not only was this outfit choice questionable, but it was offensive to many. In a place where terrorism affects a whole country, this was not the best move by Brown. It was seen to upset not only those religiously affiliated to the customary headwear, but also those who have been affected by the violence caused from war and terrorism.
Julianne Hough’s costume choice in 2013 put her in the midst of a controversial topic known to many as “blackface.” When someone paints their face to resemble that of someone of a darker completion. Hough’s costume was supposed to represent the character of, Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black. Although Hough apologized via twitter saying, “I am a huge fan of the show ‘Orange is the New black,’ actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize,” was it because President of the Media Area Unit of NAACP of Pennsylvania, Joan Duvall-Flynn said she had some explaining to do and that “an apology for such insensitivity is appropriate.”
More celebrities seen as being insensitive to current racial tensions include Ellie Goulding, Harry Styles and Khloe Kardashian who had pictures of them wearing Native American headdresses. Yet, with any of these issues, celebrities have not learned from those who have done similar things in the past. Therefore, we sought out to find an explanation as why it keeps occurring. We talked to Ronke Oke, a Ph. D Candidate in Philosophy at Penn State who teaches courses in both philosophy and ethics.
Oke depicted to a possible explanation to the start of the issue, where we as a society view celebrities. We have cast them outside of the scope that others in the society apply to. And that it is only “severe behaviors, [when] they get thrust back into the moral spectrum that we apply to.” However, since we have already put them into a different light, we have in a way “exempt them from certain reflections” where they didn’t have to take responsibility before so now some celebrities aren’t taking responsibly either. Oke described her view on celebrities that cause these inconsiderate controversial issues, “[they] don’t learn from their actions, don’t seem to be that apologetic, they are only apologetic because it affects [themselves].” In other words, even when they apologize, they don’t genuinely mean it, but they are doing it to save face.
“What we can say is we have to understand that not only they represent and believe in this, but other people in society agree with this” and we as a society “aren’t doing justice of stopping the idea or understanding.” We debate over the controversy and someone usually of importance (such as a political figure, President of an association, etc.) demands an apology. We speculate them for making their opinions so public, but do not realize that others share the belief and this is why the same controversy often repeats itself. So perhaps some of the blame falls on us as a society? First because we aren’t putting ourselves in the same circle as celebrities when it comes to these issues. Second, when these controversial incidents occur, we try to rid them as soon as possible instead of breaking them down. Our dialogue is based on an opinion of being inconsiderate and wrong vs. right between outside members, yet we ignore the idea of breaking down the basis or simply the ignorance of the situation. Even though we weren’t the ones to complete the action, where we still a part of the problem?