Bella Hadid ate burritos today, in case anyone was wondering. Kourtney Kardashian had a smoothie and Paris Hilton had a facial. These snippets of celebrity lives have become so accessible through social media that many of us see these characters more than our family members. But lately, along with recipes and promotions of their new album, fans are increasingly seeing too much.
Just this month we’ve witnessed Kanye West’s chaotic downfall, which has now — thankfully — resulted in him vowing to take a month of silence after spurting antisemitic hate for the past few weeks. Lately I’ve seen Madonna’s breasts more than my own — though thankfully I’ve not yet taken to licking water out of a dog bowl. Meanwhile over on Britney Spears’s Instagram, the singer is offering her usual medley of vitriolic rants against family members who wronged her and egregious nude pictures to embarrass the ones who remain by her side. These snapshots all share a common theme: it would have been better for all of them to occur behind closed doors.
The cult status of the celebrity oversharer depends on their obsessive fans feeling like more than a fan. When you look at these people, the ones that dedicate their days to “stan” Twitter accounts and traipsing the internet for pictures of what Meghan Markle wore to the grocery store, it’s clear that they have convinced themselves that they are more than just a fan of their idol. They are their friend.
And oversharing is fast becoming one of the greatest PR marketing techniques of modern times. Bella Hadid sharing selfies of her crying earned her headlines for a full week. The model claimed that “sharing her truth,” which was that she sometimes cries, was more to help her 47.2 million followers feel less alone. Maybe it did, but it also managed to rake in nearly a million likes in less than twenty-four hours.
Then look at Selena Gomez and her new Apple TV show, My Mind & Me, which details her rise to fame alongside her mental health “journey,” which eventually resulted in her hospitalization. Gomez’s story is frustratingly vague, and while she speaks of general issues she’s been through, we never really learned the root causes of anything. Some have claimed that My Mind & Me is “ambivalently promotional” claiming that throughout the film’s second half, she’s marketing her 2020 comeback album Rare. But that hasn’t stopped die hard “Selenators” branding it a brave masterpiece, with some claiming it “saved their life.”
Ironically, after the series’ release, Gomez claimed that we wouldn’t hear from her much for a while, adding that “every now and then it’s important to just disappear.” I’m inclined not to believe her as just a few minutes before, she announced the likelihood of a brand-new album next year.
Matthew Perry’s memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, is a shining example of celebrities opening the door for us normies a little too much. Throughout the book he details the lengths to which he went to get his hands on prescription pills, saying that he even resorted to “going to open houses to see what pills they had in there and steal them.” The gory details seem somewhat gratuitous, especially as the book is shrouded with self-pity. Perry even adds in the prologue that the book is more a biography rather than a memoir, “because I was no longer there.”
We are a long way from the times of Greta Garbo. After the beloved actress retired, she declined all opportunities to return to the screen, shunned publicity and led a reclusive life. Fast forward to today and we have Blac Chyna filming the “mannequin challenge” while birthing her daughter and Lena Dunham taking pictures on the exam chair as she waits for her gynecologist.
Over the years, how many times have we seen celebrities taking a hiatus from social media because “it’s all gotten too much?” How couldn’t it? They surround themselves by obsessive fans, letting them peek at the skeletons in the closet, even replying to private messages, then suddenly it clicks that they’re like performing monkeys in glass boxes. A little advice: a private life is a happy one.