When it comes to celebrities, there’s a very fine line between their professional lives and personal lives. It seems like everything that should remain sacred and private is often aired out for public consumption and judgment, whether they asked for it or not. Some people sell their wedding photos to People for millions of dollars, others open up to journalists about personal family drama, and there are plenty of people who are simply living their day-to-day lives when something happens and the whole world is right there watching, gawking and passing judgment. Some argue that being a public figure— an actor, musician, politician or otherwise— is an invitation for the world to become voyeurs into your personal life, but I disagree. Just because they make movies, play guitar, sing in a band or own a company doesn’t mean they’ve lost all expectancy for human decency and their right to privacy. Celebrities are people with feelings, emotions, regrets and hopes just like the rest of us, which is why it bothers the hell out of me that I can’t look past their cheating scandals and just accept them for being human.When I first heard yesterday that Zach Galifianakis interviewed Brad Pitt on “Between Two Ferns,” I couldn’t wait. Zach never ceases to crack me up, and I’ve loved Brad Pitt since I saw him in “A River Runs Through It” many years ago. I’ve followed his career and admire his work. So, while I was watching the clip, Zach made a very obvious, but understated low-blow about Brad’s affair with Angelina Jolie while he was married to Jennifer Aniston. I remember when this happened back in 2005, and I was livid— not just because I love Jennifer Aniston as an actress and person (“Friends” forever), but because I’m still holding a grudge against Brad for it, and wish I weren’t. For starters, “cheaters” are humans who have personal lives that don’t involve me, so who am I to judge them for their romantic decisions? I’m not feeling their feelings and living their lives, therefore it is not my place to hate them or ridicule them or wonder why they’ve done what they’ve done. Plus, having an affair in no way changes the quality of the work they’ve done, which made them famous in the first place. Brad and Angie still make amazing movies, as do Orlando Bloom and Jude Law. Jason Aldean is still one of my favorite musicians, Tiger Woods is still a golf legend, and LeAnn Rimes, whose concert was the first I ever saw, can still sing her ass off. Their actions don’t define them or their skills, but I’ve found that their actions in their personal lives have tainted my perception of them as entertainers. As one of the aforementioned outsiders looking in— completely aware that celebrities have not “chosen” to have their dirty laundry aired to the world— I know I don’t have a right to judge, but I do anyway.
I’m sure the fact that I’ve been cheated on in the past has made me less forgiving of others who cheat, but I don’t want to feel this way. I want to be able to watch “Fight Club” without thinking Brad Pitt is a rat bastard for so painfully and publicly leaving Jen Aniston to become one-half of “Brangie.” I want to be able to hear about Jason Aldean’s upcoming wedding to his former mistress without blinking an eye and turning back to his station on Spotify, but I feel guilty about enjoying their work because of the fact that I’ve been hurt in the same way that they’ve hurt others. A part of me knows that public judgment and scrutiny comes with the celebrity territory: it’s unavoidable. The other part of me firmly believes that what goes on in someone’s personal life is just that— personal. I sometimes have hard time distinguishing between when to pay attention to a celebrity’s personal affairs and when to disregard them, because, after all, it’s THEIR life and it does not define their work, even if they are the cover stories on five tabloids. The recent 4chan #CelebGate nude photo leak only helped bring the topic of celebrity privacy to the forefront again, with many claiming the victims of the hack, who are all public figures, “should have known better than to take nude photos” because of who they are. But what about the fact that they’re humans with personal lives, and photos meant for their own viewing and consumption aren’t meant to for everyone. There’s an expectancy of privacy there, just like there is when people go through difficult personal struggles, like affairs. Their lives shouldn’t be spectacles for entertainment; their work should be our entertainment.
I loved “Maleficent” when I saw it in theaters not too long ago, but when asked how I felt about the movie, I couldn’t help but say “It was awesome, but I still think Angelina is a bitch.” Similarly, I’ve played Jason Aldean’s new album on repeat for weeks now, and listen to all of his love songs, enjoying them while silently cursing him out for hurting someone with whom I can relate. I want to be able to separate the good from the bad and the hard work from the poor decision making, but it’s not easy. You don’t ask for people to judge you, but they do anyway because it’s human nature. It all boils down to the fact that no matter who you are, whether you’re a celebrity, a blogger, a bartender, a mother or stock broker, there will always be someone picking apart your actions. I shouldn’t feel guilty for empathizing with other people or feeling anger towards the ones who’ve hurt them; that just proves I’m compassionate and human. I can’t fault them for cheating any more than they can fault me for passing judgment. From now on, I will try my hardest to separate the painter from his painting, the actor from his acting and the singer from her singing. I would want them do the same for me. After all, nobody’s perfect.