So over the past few months, I’ve been writing about different celebrities and the different ways that they are problematic. And a big part of why I’ve been doing this (and why I’ll keep doing it on occasion) is because we as a society tend to emulate celebrities and put them up on untouchable pedestals. It’s important to remember that celebrities are human – they’re flawed and bound to make mistakes. But they should be held just as accountable for their problematic behavior as anyone else.
Holding someone accountable and realizing that they’re not perfect doesn’t mean you have to hate them. You can still be a fan of someone or a production all while also criticizing the problematic aspects as well. Hating all the people who’ve ever been problematic would probably be a very lonely experience because we’re not perfect and we’re not born knowing all the right things to say or do.
It can be hard to admit that our favorites are problematic because as Ijeoma Oluo writes, we see often ourselves in them:
Our reluctance to have an honest and open conversation about the flaws of celebrities we love stems from a simple fact: we see ourselves in them. If your favorite smart, talented, successful celebrity can be classist, sexist or racist then what does that say about you? Well, it says that you can be classist, sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic.
But you can and you are at least some of these things sometimes. So am I. Own it. Learn from it. It’s not an attack, it’s the truth. Nobody is a perfect example of civil rights virtue. If you aren’t screwing up, you aren’t trying.
Holding people, especially celebrities accountable is an important process but it doesn’t mean you can’t like anything or that being problematic makes you an inherently terrible person. (Although it does get real old when people refuse to be held accountable or deflect from actual comments/questions about their work – ie when Tina Fey said she’s opting out of the “culture of demanding apologies”, which literally accomplishes nothing other than bothering me.) Ultimately, I’m going to keep writing about and critiquing problematic faves but that doesn’t mean I’ll hate everything.