Trigger warning: suicide, bullying, slut-shaming, body policing
This, my friends, is stupid. It is many things, actually, but most of all it is stupid. Photographers with telephoto lenses took intrusive pictures of Ms. Middleton and then published them but Ms. Middleton is at fault for being topless. Because when a woman is nude, she steps outside the boundaries of society’s protections and “deserves” what happens to her? Or because a woman who is a public figure does not deserve privacy even in her own home?
But this article argues that Kate Middleton is too famous to go topless. While I agree that her public position makes her an unlikely candidate for nude beaches, the responsibility for this scandal does not like with Ms. Middleton but with the photographers who took her picture and the editor who printed the pictures. Ms. Middleton has, like the rest of us, a right to be naked in our own homes, vacation or permanent. While an “average” woman in America can rightly prosecute the kind of stalkerish behavior that is a stranger taking (naked) pictures without consent, we deny that protection to the famous. Why does being famous strip (no pun intended) celebrities of the right to conduct their private lives in private?
Did you know Victoria Beckham and Katie Holmes hate each other? They do. No love at all for the pair. It is one of the reasons, other than the timeshare type sales pitch Tom would give David Beckham about Scientology that the two couples stopped hanging out. Well, Victoria Beckham has had her day and her venue for New York Fashion week picked for months and months. She is having her show at the New York Library. Katie Holmes could have picked any day to have her debut fashion show and picked the day and time that Victoria’s show is. Why? She knows the press will want photos of her, and will skip Victoria.
So my co-mod likes to send me links that she knows will annoy me and this definitely fits the bill. So this will be the quick and dirty version.
Victoria Beckham doesn’t give a fuck if the paps show up at her show. She cares if Anna Wintour and the buyers from Selfridges show up.
To imply otherwise is a) stupid b) ignorant and c) another way in which the contributions and opinions of women are devalued. Because all those female editors and womenswear buyers could show up and it wouldn’t matter according to CDAN because the only real validation is the (male) gaze of the paps.
We’ve all seen the headlines at the check-out counter. “Kristen Stewart Caught.” We’ve all thumbed the glossy pages here and there. “Kris and Rob a couple?” We all catch the snaps. “I like that dress. I hate the hair. Cute couple. Bad shoes.” There’s no guilt in acknowledging the human interest in public linens. It’s as old as the hills. Lift up beautiful young people like gods and then pull them down to earth to gaze at their seams. See, they’re just like us. But we seldom consider the childhoods we unknowingly destroy in the process.
I have been an actress since I was 3 years old, 46 years to date. I have no memories of a childhood outside the public eye. I am told people look to me as a success story. Often complete strangers approach me and ask, How have you stayed so normal, so well-adjusted, so private? I usually lie and say, “Just boring I guess.” The truth is, like some curious radioactive mutant, I have invented my own gothic survival tools. I have fashioned rules to control the glaring eyes. Maybe I’ve organized my career choices to allow myself (and the ones I truly love) maximum personal dignity. And, yes, I have neurotically adapted to the gladiator sport of celebrity culture, the cruelty of a life lived as a moving target. In my era, through discipline and force of will, you could still manage to reach for a star-powered career and have the authenticity of a private life. Sure, you’d have to lose your spontaneity in the elaborate architecture. You’d have to learn to submerge beneath the foul air and breathe through a straw. But at least you could stand up and say, I will not willfully participate in my own exploitation. Not anymore. If I were a young actor or actress starting my career today in the new era of social media and its sanctioned hunting season, would I survive? Would I drown myself in drugs, sex, and parties? Would I be lost?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if I were a young actor today I would quit before I started. If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally. I would only hope that someone who loved me, really loved me, would put their arm around me and lead me away to safety. Sarah Tobias would never have danced before her rapists in The Accused. Clarice would never have shared the awful screaming of the lambs to Dr. Lecter. Another actress might surely have taken my place, opened her soul to create those characters, surrendered her vulnerabilities. But would she have survived the paparazzi peering into her windows, the online harassment, the public humiliations, without overdosing in a hotel room or sticking her face with needles until she became unrecognizable even to herself?
Acting is all about communicating vulnerability, allowing the truth inside yourself to shine through regardless of whether it looks foolish or shameful. To open and give yourself completely. It is an act of freedom, love, connection. Actors long to be known in the deepest way for their subtleties of character, for their imperfections, their complexities, their instincts, their willingness to fall. The more fearless you are, the more truthful the performance. How can you do that if you know you will be personally judged, skewered, betrayed? If you’re smart, you learn to willfully disassociate, to compartmentalize. Putting your emotions into a safety box definitely comes in handy when the public throws stones. The point is to survive, intact or not, whatever the emotional cost. Actors who become celebrities are supposed to be grateful for the public interest. After all, they’re getting paid. Just to set the record straight, a salary for a given on-screen performance does not include the right to invade anyone’s privacy, to destroy someone’s sense of self.
In 2001 I spent 5 months with Kristen Stewart on the set of Panic Room mostly holed up in a space the size of a Manhattan closet. We talked and laughed for hours, sharing spontaneous mysteries and venting our boredom. I grew to love that kid. She turned 11 during our shoot and on her birthday I organized a mariachi band to serenade her at the taco bar while she blew out her candles. She begrudgingly danced around a sombrero with me but soon rushed off to a basketball game with the grip and electric departments. Her mother and I watched her jump around after the ball, hooting with every team basket. “She doesn’t want to be an actor when she grows up, does she?” I asked. Her mom sighed. “Yes … unfortunately.” We both smiled and shrugged with an ambivalence born from experience. “Can’t you talk her out of it?” I offered. “Oh, I’ve tried. She loves it. She just loves it.” More sighs. We watched her run around the court for a while, both of us silent, each thinking our own thoughts. I was pregnant at the time and found myself daydreaming of the child I might have soon. Would she be just like Kristen? All that beautiful talent and fearlessness … would she jump and dunk and make me so proud?
Cut to: Today … A beautiful young woman strides down the sidewalk alone, head down, hands drawn into fists. She’s walking fast, darting around huge men with black cameras thrusting at her mouth and chest. “Kristen, how do you feel?” “Smile Kris!” “Hey, hey, did you get her?” “I got her. I got her!” The young woman doesn’t cry. Fuck no. She doesn’t look up. She’s learned. She keeps her head down, her shades on, fists in her pockets. Don’t speak. Don’t look. Don’t cry.
My mother had a saying that she doled out after every small injustice, every heartbreak, every moment of abject suffering. “This too shall pass.” God, I hated that phrase. It always seemed so banal and out of touch, like she was telling me my pain was irrelevant. Now it just seems quaint, but oddly true … Eventually this all passes. The public horrors of today eventually blow away. And, yes, you are changed by the awful wake of reckoning they leave behind. You trust less. You calculate your steps. You survive. Hopefully in the process you don’t lose your ability to throw your arms in the air again and spin in wild abandon. That is the ultimate F.U. and—finally—the most beautiful survival tool of all. Don’t let them take that away from you.
Rihanna in Givenchy
Vote your favorite Best Dressed now.
So wait? Rihanna is up for best dressed for the outfit she wore to HER GRANDMOTHER’S FUNERAL? Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? Anything wrong with judging her on a public platform during an intensely personal moment? I am all for judging celebs on what they wear to the red carpet or even the grocery store but she is dressed for a funeral. It’s bad enough that she is being photographed going to that funeral but to have her outfit held up to public scrutiny as well?
It’s wrong and it makes me think less of Vogue for being part of it.
Imagine that this is what you see every time you leave the house. A mob of adults (mostly men) shouting things at you. Now imagine that you are not an adult but a small child. You are only three feet tall, so short you can’t see over the mob of people.
Now imagine that you are four years old and scared and unhappy. You don’t want your picture taken, your mother doesn’t want your picture taken but these adults continue to take your picture, because money can be made off of pictures of you looking unhappy.
And they aren’t just taking pictures of you because you are in the shot with your mom, they are taking pictures specifically of you even if you mom looks away. They are taking pictures of you while you stand there, scared. Imagine that Honor Warren is your child or your niece or you cousin or any child you care about. How would you feel if adults treated your child this way, if they scared your child so badly she cried sometimes? Imagine if they kept taking pictures of her as she cried because they make money off of a child’s misery.
Furthermore, imagine things we can’t show you-things we won’t show you. Imagine that a child you know was in a stroller wearing a skirt and paps were shooting up her skirt so her underwear was visible. My co-mod tells me this is something that paps commonly do to celebrity children, that it is not unique to Honor Warren’s case.
Now imagine if all this was happening to a child you cared about and you couldn’t do anything about it because their mom or dad was famous. And not only famous but “asking for” this kind of attention because they are an actor. Would you smile for the paps as they harassed and terrified your children? Would we accept this behavior in our communities as the price of being rich or famous or well-regarded?
This post is the very definition of concern trolling. x17’s only concern with Rihanna drinking is the money they could make off her public breakdown. “Oh, poor Rihanna, she’s so unhappy. Maybe she will shave all her hair off and we can sell the pics for six figures.”
Couple of things besides making fun of x17
a) I’m glad that x17 is in a position to decide Rihanna’s emotional state.
b) How many pics of drinking/smoking up has Rihanna tweeted?
c) Because no one drinks after funerals, never.
d) “Because I had to.” This could mean ANYTHING. Literally anything in the entire world. But x17 decides it means that Rihanna has been driven to drink.
Look, death affects people and everyone mourns differently but x17’s “concern” seems more about driving Rihanna to drink than being actually concerned about her (none of their business) alcohol consumption.
Also, while we are on the subject, this narrative of Rihanna as an out of control party girl, as opposed to a young woman who works her ass off, is bullshit. (Six albums since 2005, not to mention all her guest spots. Non-stop touring. Also, not to be inappropriate but Rihanna’s body is clearly one that requires lots of effort. Maybe Rihanna does have a problem with alcohol. I’m not her mom, I don’t know. But why does no one talk about how Rihanna is an on-point professional?)
But she parties on her off nights! (The only twentysomething to do so!) So she is two weeks away from rehab. Enough, already! Has Rihanna ever been visibly intoxicated on stage? Are there complains about her performances? Has she been blowing off her professional obligations? No? Then stop with the bullshit “concern”.
Tune in next week for the next installment in our ongoing feature: “fi:ut continues to be “shrill” about how the gossip blogs treat Rihanna”. Look for our book in 2014!
BG scolds Lively for taking pictures of the paps who trail her. Such actions are only productive in the sense that she could post them to instagram. Hahahaha, she is totally over-reacting to strangers who follow her around 24/7. She stood and posed outside GMA because celebs are expected to pose for cameras outside of studios when they are doing an appearance inside. It’s become part of the job. But where BG and I disagree is with the idea that it is part of a celebs job to be followed 24/7. That a women who talks to a pap is scolding and a buzzkill but male celebs routinely punch photographers and those actions are seen as more legitimate than Lively’s action in not wanting to be followed to her next location.
Why is that? Why are we more respectful of a male actor’s efforts to carve out space apart from the paps, to hate and demonstrate against the attention of the pap swarm than we are of female actors? A female actor who covers her face (Megan Fox), talks to a pap attempting to follow her (Lively), or gives the paps the finger (Kristen Stewart) are either considered “sluts” (Fox, Lively) or “bitches” (Stewart, Fox (AGAIN)). But male stars like DiCaprio or Robert Pattinson are considered “serious” or “dedicated artists” and that makes them “uncoperative”. But their attitude to the paps is indicative of their deep love of the craft of acting blah blah blah pretention. But a female star’s attitude to the paps determines whether she is a bitch, a whore or “nice”.
I assume fame is really nice and I think every actor realizes their is a trade-off to be made in being famous. The sheer numbers of people interested in a celeb’s life means that things like their relationships or their families will be of interest to people on a larger scale than if they were an engineer and their lives were interesting only to their families, co-workers and toddler son’s play group. But no one should have to give up their privacy in the way that seems to come with mega-fame.
The obvious example is, of course, the Twilight actors. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson got involved with a project that, at the time, was based on a popular but not widely known YA novel. By the time the movie was released it was a cultural touchstone and they were being followed to the bathroom. Actors don’t “ask” for “excessive attention” (however you define it) by being famous or successful or getting involved in a project that blows up beyond the stratosphere. Being a talented entertainer does not make someone other than human.
To bring this back to Lively, she has every right not to be followed by people against her will and to be concerned about her safety because of the people who follow her constantly. This is serious, whether BG will acknowledge that seriousness or not.
Usually, we here at fi:ut provide links to the posts we blast but, in my opinion, this gossip blog post is so offensive that I can’t bear to link you do it. I’ve included a screen cap, so you can see that it is a real post.
I know Rihanna is one of the most heavily pap’d celebrities in the world. She gets her picture taken on every vacation, at every nightclub and on ever shopping trip. I don’t know if that is right but it is what it is. However, taking pictures of Rihanna outside a family member’s memorial service or taking pictures as Rihanna goes to her grandmother’s funeral and commenting on the clothes she is wearing (as I have seen in other blogs) is a step too far for me. Especially when said blog (not the one pictured here) is using the occasion to snidely insinuate that Rihanna dresses like a whore for non-funeral occassions.
I understand the fascination with celebrity and I certainly share it. This blog is proof of that. But when did we stop thinking of celebs as “famous people” and start thinking of them as “stars”. Stars are not people. They are some completely alien life form who seem to have no feelings, to experience no loss, to want no privacy.
Everyone deserves to be treated as a person, no matter how much the public (via the blogs) want information about them. We don’t deserve that information at the cost of a celebrity’s humanity. No one should make money, as the blogs and paps do, off of the kind of gross invasion of privacy that Rihanna has experienced this week.
Kristen Stewart showed up at a friend’s wedding in jeans. This clearly means she is a raging egomaniac. First, for showing up in the first place because seeing as how she is KStew, she is obviously taking attention away from the bride! Second, for wearing jeans to a wedding that gossip sources are SURE was a formal wedding because RO obviously saw the invitation. Third, for not wearing a dress loaned to her by the groom’s sister. How ungrateful! Fourth, for being rich.
Here’s a thought: maybe Stewart’s friend was unclear when she conveyed to Stewart what the appropriate level of dress was. Maybe Stewart’s friend just didn’t care what the level of dress was and Stewart felt under-dressed which is why she attempted to change. Maybe the Zac Posen didn’t fit her. I know all women are the same size, but it does happen that a dress that fits one woman doesn’t fit another. Maybe…maybe…maybe. The point is that I don’t know what happens and neither do the gossip sites. Neither do they care when it gives them the opportunity to paint a picture of Stewart as an ungrateful bitch.
Because that is the narrative around Stewart: she won’t smile, she’s mean to Lagerfeld (gasp!), she dresses in a way that is not gender performative enough for the gossip blogs, she won’t talk about her private life, she flips off paps. Any one of these things would be enough to create the image that KStew is an ungrateful bitch but the fact that she does all of them means that everything she ever does is only going to reinforce the bitch narrative. She could give up acting and go to Haiti to work in an orphanage for sick children and she still would be an ungrateful bitch. The problem is that Kristen Stewart is too famous for the gossip blogs *not* to cover but she acts above her station (ie her “station” as a young, Hollywood “starlet”).
Just as Rihanna acts in a way that gossip blogs disapprove of (too sexual, too frank for a woman) condemning her to a constantly reinforced narrative about her “sluttiness”, Stewart’s perceived lack of gender performativity (too aggressive, doesn’t wear enough dresses, doesn’t smile enough, claims a private sphere for her own) means that she is condemned to a reinforced narrative as a bitch.
Millions of young women, however, respond to Stewart because she has created a space for herself that girls are told they don’t need, that makes them less than desirable. I know nothing about Stewart as a person, but her public persona as someone who insists on boundaries and reinforces those boundaries in her public appearances and conduct is an admirable example for young women and girls.
Too often women are told that it is rude to say “no”, to insist on privacy, to tell another person they are standing too close or asking inappropriate questions. Stewart does those things, in public, with every interview where she refuses to answer questions about her private life, with ever red carpet where she wears sneakers, with her seeming dislike of the paps who shadow her everywhere. Stewart says “no” over and over again. I admire her for that, even if the gossip blogs never will.