By Roisin Mc Manus
Meghan Markle’s recent interview for her and Prince Harry’s ITV show, An African Journey, ultimately ended in her receiving a lot of backlash for speaking out about the difficulties she has faced with the British press as a new mother. Many people believe that Meghan is a breath of fresh air in the Royal Family; a divorced American actress is not exactly what one first thinks of as being part of this prestigious family. Yet, despite her positive aspects, her every movement remains to be scrutinised by the masses. It’s almost as if some people are waiting for her to do something wrong and mess up. To ask ourselves why we love to hate celebrities so much, we must first reflect on our own personal relationships with them.
Today, more than ever before, we have 24/7 access to celebrities through social media. Movements such as ‘cancel culture’ have become a recent phenomenon because of this, with celebrities being picked apart and held accountable for something they supposedly did wrong on a near–daily basis. As seen with James Charles and Tati Westbrook over the summer, sometimes we reach conclusions too quickly without knowing the whole story. The question remains; why do we care?
Arguably, modern trends most often come from celebrity culture. We see Dua Lipa wearing Balenciaga runners, we want them; we see our favourite influencer promoting a new brand of fake tan, we want it. You get the picture. We are so heavily influenced nowadays by them that we have started to want to be them and to follow as they lead. This means that when they do something wrong, we feel betrayed by the people we thought we knew.
One of the most prominent examples in recent times that I can think of are the climate change protests – an example of social media being used for the betterment of society. While Greta Thunberg is known worldwide as being the poster girl for this movement, every day we see people complaining about her on Twitter or telling her to go back to school. A lot of the time, it’s jealousy that causes people to fight back against her, or maybe people are afraid and in denial of the harsh reality that we face when it comes to climate change. Regardless, due to the sheer amount of access we have to those in the public eye, many people feel it is their duty to speak up either for or against something.
Reverting to Meghan, one of the reasons her interview backlashed against her so majorly was because, traditionally, royals didn’t speak about the difficulties that they faced. The ‘stiff upper-lip’ attitude that she mentions in this interview is known to be true for them throughout history, during the scandals they have been faced with.
Are we jealous of celebrities? Do we envy and yearn for the lives they lead? The most obvious reason we love to hate them so much is because we can. Social media allows us to say what we want about them at any time. We can start a movement against them (or cancel them) whenever they do something that we don’t like. A lot of the time, starting movements online to provoke conversations and make positive changes is for the better, taking #metoo for example. These issues desperately needed to be talked about and the celebrities involved needed to be discussed to ensure that changes were going to be made in the future.
As important as it is to speak up against injustice that we see, either in real life or online, sometimes we need to think as if who we are talking to is sat directly in front of us. Too often, ‘keyboard warriors’ take their words too far and end up hurting the people they are talking about irreplaceably. While I believe that celebrities in particular, due to them often being seen as role models for younger people, need to be made aware of errors that they make, people on the other side of the screen also need to be held accountable when they say things they can’t take back.