The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Opinion: We often make the wrong people famous

Lizzie Miller

If you had the attention of everyone on this planet, what would you say?

Maybe you’ve thought about it before as a hypothetical, but some people are lucky enough to have the eyes and ears of millions. But some never seem to be the role models we expect them to be, do they?

One person who comes to mind is singer Doja Cat, who was under fire earlier this year for controversial tweets, which are now deleted.

In one tweet, Doja wrote that two of her studio albums, “Planet Her” and “Hot Pink,” were “cash-grabs and y’all fell for it.”

Another comment thread shows Doja calling one of her loyal fans the b-word and a “crazy person” for stating how they have been with Doja “through thick and thin.”

I’ve never been a huge Doja Cat fan, but when I saw these tweets, I took it personally. Not only is Doja slamming her fans, but she is also taking a dig at music fans worldwide who support their favorite artists no matter what.

Personally, I’m a Frank Ocean aficionado, and if he ever responded to one of my comments like this, I don’t think I would ever recover.

Adam Levine also found himself in the social media crossfire over a year ago when he was accused of cheating on his wife of nine years.

This is when I got the idea to write about how we, as a society, often choose the worst people to idolize.

Of course, we don’t know how these formerly “everyday people” will behave once they’re out in the spotlight. I can imagine that it’s a lot of pressure to be seen by millions, and we all make mistakes sometimes. However, in the case of Doja and many others, being human is not an excuse to be a bad person and be ungrateful to the fans she owes her fame and fortune to.

Sometimes, celebrities don’t turn out the way we expect. Sometimes, fans choose to idolize people who are awful humans anyway.

“There are also those who collect Hitler memorabilia and John Wayne Gacy paintings,” said Rikki Lee Travolta, a publicist based in the Greater Chicago region who has worked with high profile celebrities. “When you think of it in that context, you realize that sadly there are people who admire people simply because they are in the headlines, and not because of their character.”

We’re prone to believe that just because someone is running the headlines or they won a few awards that they are praiseworthy. But many times, it’s a case of misplaced glory. 

I’ve never been a big follower of pop culture, but I’ve noticed that social media has made it much easier to become a star for no good reason.

“So now anybody can become famous via the internet and social media. Yet these people aren’t vetted or deemed to be talented by professionals,” said DePaul professor Edward Barnes, who has experience working on sets for shows such as “Arrested Development” and “CSI: Miami.”  

While it may be fun to idolize a singer because you like their music or an actress because they star in one of your favorite movies, it can be a dangerous game for younger generations who look up to anyone they see online.

Apps like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat all require users to be 13 years or older, but that doesn’t prevent users from lying about their age to use the app.

According to a review done by The New York Times, “TikTok classified more than a third of its 49 million daily users in the United States as being 14 years old or younger.”

Some TikTok stars with a majority of younger followers face major controversy, like 24-year-old Tony Lopez, who was accused in 2020 of sexual misconduct with a minor.

It’d be impossible for me to talk about celebrities without talking about cancel culture. Cancel culture’s main purpose is to remove a celebrity’s platform and limit or completely abolish their chances of working in their respective industry again.

More often than not, cancel culture proves to be ineffective. Take Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, for example, who joined the list of canceled celebrities last year due to multiple instances of hate speech. The numbers show that cancel culture did not prove to work on West, who still has over 57 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

For some, it’s easy to separate the art from the artist. However, when we support a celebrity’s career, we’re supporting them financially and socially. In that case, it’s almost impossible to separate the art from the artist.

Whether we realize it or not, the public makes these people famous. It’s whose music you stream, what shows you watch, whose merchandise you buy – so choose wisely.

“The internet and social media have, in a way, democratized the content that most people in the world have access to, for better or worse, which has democratized the means to becoming famous,” Barnes said. 

I’m not saying we need to get rid of public figures altogether. As I write this story in my room with three Frank Ocean posters on my wall, I know how fun it can be to closely follow someone we look up to. But no matter how fun it is, we must hold celebrities accountable for the mistakes they make and be picky about whom we support.

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