I grew up not having much insight into many of the entertainers I admired. I knew Mary J. Blige was somewhat troubled due to whispers from older people and, well, some of her performances on TV. I knew Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown had a lot going on because they became staples in the National Enquirer, which I always saw when I accompanied my mom to the grocery store. The only star I can recall knowing more about than I should have was Madonna because Madonna was oversharing before it became commonplace. Even so, Madonna did so by way of documentaries like Truth or Dare and nearly every single television interview she did in the 1990s.
Thanks to social media, we get immediate and frequent intel about our favorite celebrities. In some instances, it’s only made me like an entertainer even more. Say, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who are funny, personable, and if pressed to be, comically combative. Last week, though, I was reminded of the other side and how many celebrities have essentially dampened my views on them because they revealed too much of who they truly are.
After Bill Cosby’s 2005 deposition was made public by the Associated Press and subsequently revealed that he has placed Quaaludes in the drinks of women he’s
had sex with raped, singer Jill Scott took to Twitter to say, “About Bill Cosby. Sadly his own testimony offers PROOF of terrible deeds, which is ALL I have ever required to believe the accusations.”
At the very least, she acknowledged she was wrong, but as she continued to tweet, she did so in the same almost antagonistic way she defiantly defended the comedian months prior. Jill has a right to her opinion, but when it comes to sensitive topics like sexual assault, it’s one I wish I had never read. I’ll still sing all of her songs that mention so many different yummy morsels of food, but my view of her as a person has been tainted all the same.
There are worse examples, however. There is Azealia Banks, who has all but blown her chances at a certain level of stardom due to her tweets, which include unnecessary beefs with far too many people and homophobic rants that make me wish I could burn the digital copies of her songs that I’ve purchased over the years. Or Tyrese, who tweets like a stale fortune cookie that never made it past the seventh grade. Then there’s Chris Brown, who has said so many stupid things in the midst of an online temper tantrum that I’ve lost count.
You can add Jim Carrey to the list after he used the photo of an autistic boy to spread his ridiculous views on vaccinations in a firestorm of tweets. Meanwhile, artists like Miguel create unnecessary drama for themselves by taking shots at their perceived competition. Even Adina Howard has soiled herself in my mind after she responded to the shooting deaths of unarmed black men and women at the hands of law enforcement by invoking respectability politics. In fact, many a black celebrity has been permanently exiled in my mind by invoking such stances.
I feel myself increasingly wanting to say things like, “Back in my day, I didn’t know how big a damn fool X-celebrity was.”
The quick retort to this sentiment would be to point out that one should never put a celebrity on a pedestal. My immediate response to that is: “No s—t, Sherlock.” It’s not about holding a celebrity to a higher standard; it’s the reality that through their art, we connect with them in a way that for many is special. Unfortunately, social media shows a given star in a way that can ruin it for you. Or, as I’ve been reminded, not “ruin,” because ultimately, that’s who they always have been. We just didn’t know.
That doesn’t make me feel any better. I want to keep liking these people, or at least, not get irritated to the point where I want to bootleg their s—t the next go ’round. Will you join me in prayer that the annoying celebrities start employing better publicists?