To Every Celebrity Who Reads the Internet – An Open Letter re: Criticism

MeaCulpa1I was afraid of this. Sometimes, when I sit down and start writing articles for the various sites that I write for, I wonder whether celebrities, directors, producers or others associated with shows and movies actually read them. I cringe a bit, wondering whether they’ll think I’m a b*tch if I write too harshly about their latest project. I wonder whether I could live with the kind of criticism some of these people take on a daily basis and then acknowledge that I probably couldn’t. This is why they have cooler day jobs than I do (writing is not my regular day job, by the way).

When I read an article this morning wherein Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans) responded to the recent public criticism of the Avatar trailer, I realized that some of these people actually do read what’s written about them or their work, and I decided that this should be addressed. I’m not above occasionally taking cheap shots when I’m writing…..but is it right?

Sometimes I’m sarcastic in my articles. It’s just my personality. It doesn’t mean that I don’t admire your work and that you don’t entertain me greatly. In fact, if I like you I’m 100% completely loyal, sometimes to a fault. This goes for actors, actresses, tv shows, movies, etc. I will forgive anything: bad reviews, bad acting, weak storylines, huge plot holes….none of that matters to me if you’ve got my loyalty. That’s why I forgave some seasons of Buffy and that second X-Files movie.

I’ll admit I’m not a professional journalist. A lot of bloggers and pop culture writers these days aren’t. I’d like to believe that after a four year undergraduate degree and three years of law school that I can string together a sentence. At the very least, all that tuition money taught me some big words and some Latin (yes, we’re still all about the Latin in law school – for example, nemo dat quod non habet). I like to write, and I’ve been lucky enough to get a platform to do so, but I’m just a regular person. I call my grandparents at least twice a week because I love them. I knit scarves for friends and family members as gifts. I’ve got some crazy “and this one time, when I was drunk….” stories. I cried at the end of Beaches (and Gladiator…and pretty much every movie where someone dies). I’m in serious denial about turning 30 later this year (who wants to come to my 29 Again party in December?!)

So if I’m a regular person, this means that celebrities are regular people too. I think sometimes we forget this. Writers, people on the street…..we sometimes like to think that celebrities don’t have feelings. With the internet, everyone’s a critic. Mass and personal opinion is transmitted in real time and social platforms like Twitter or Facebook can make or break a movie or a television show. It’s not just a job to some actors. They’re being judged on their talent, their looks, the way they walk and talk and a lot of other things that define them as people. How could some of them not cave under constant criticism? Why do we feel that we have to right to criticize? Sure, I could claim that it’s my right – as a potential paying movie or television watcher – to express my opinion and to some degree that’s true. But being unnecessarily harsh isn’t right either.

meaJessica Simpson gains ten pounds and she’s damn near crucified by the media. Good Lord. I wonder how a lot of people would feel if someone wrote “you’re fat” on the internet and nearly ten million people read it. Jennifer Aniston breaks up with a boyfriend and we’re all cackling about how she can’t keep a man. Hell, her divorce was played out in the public sphere. I couldn’t survive that. Could you? Britney Spears likely suffered from a mental illness and people post photos of her strapped to a gurney in an ambulance. Her children are taken from her and it’s just fodder. Now that it seems like she’s getting her life back in order people are still looking for ways to make fun of her. It’s a miracle most of these celebrities aren’t turning to booze, my personal remedy for pain (kids, don’t try this at home). Is the price that Simpson or Aniston or Spears pay – the public ridicule and scorn – equal to the millions they earn? No. Because one is money. The other is their life, their feelings, their self-worth. You cannot put a price on that.

As one commenter below noted, it’s easy to be anonymous on the internet. It’s easier to insult someone behind their back than to their face. But posting something online isn’t the same as whispering an insult to another friend, is it? I think the recent example where a court ordered Google to reveal the name of a blogger who insulted a model shows how damaging online insults can be and how seriously some will take it. Do I agree with that decision? Not necessarily, but a good argument can be made for either side.

Lest some accuse me of being a bleeding heart, let me state that I believe that some celebrities bring this attention — negative or otherwise — on themselves. There are a lot of celebrities I wouldn’t want to know in person or be friends with in real life because their personalities just rub me the wrong way. Do some of them deserve the snarky words? Certainly. But not all of them. Some of them I’d like to meet up with and go out with and party like it’s 1999.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a lot of celebrities don’t really care what people write about them. Maybe they don’t even read the internet and maybe there really isn’t such a thing as bad publicity. Maybe this fame thing is all just a game and the players involved don’t really care and I’m just over-thinking things — again. I’ll leave that open to debate.

I’m not going to stop writing and chances are I will occasionally take a cheap shot or make a snarky comment. However, for a little while, I wanted to pull back the curtain and try to explain. I’m a person and sometimes I feel guilty or shameful for my actions. Are there others who feel the same way I do? You tell me.

In light of some recent articles I’ve written, I’d like to clarify a few points:

Christopher Nolan: I recently wrote an article about your Inception movie trailer. But it was just a joke, man! I loved Memento – total mind f*ck. I adored The Dark Knight. I’m going to watch Inception, probably on opening night. So it was just a joke. But, seriously, what the hell is Inception about?

Everyone Who Worked on Prison Break: I was sarastic in a lot of my recaps, but I loved your show and I was sorry to see it end. My grandfather loved it too.

Sam Worthington: As Will Smith said to the aliens in Independence Day – “nothing but love for ya” (I love Will Smith too!). I loved you in Terminator 4, I loved you in all those Australian movies/tv shows you were in (yes, I saw all of them). I’ll love you in Avatar and Clash of the Titans and whatever else you do. Just a question, though…..I read your Esquire article and I want to know: what was the drunkest movie you ever made?

Heidi & Spencer: I recently wrote a one-sided conversation about you two wherein you were portrayed as talentless fame-wh*res. I really, really wish I could apologize for that, but there you have it.

Email me at clarissa @ tvovermind.com

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