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Like it or not: Celebrities don’t owe any of us anything

October 16th, 2013 9:11 am by KERSEY REYNOLDS, INK COLUMNIST

Like it or not: Celebrities don’t owe any of us anything

Kersey Reynolds is a music nerd in her junior year at Dobyns-Bennett High School. She relays her opinions, obsessions and outrages regarding the music industry every six weeks in “The Mosh.”

Editor's note: INK! is our weekly teen page featuring articles written for, about and sometimes by local teens. It publishes every Wednesday. 

Hello again, readers, and thanks for following me into a new year of INK! For those new to my column, I want to emphasize that I do not and will not make a habit of commentating on celebrity scandal. I’m here to write about good music regardless of its source, but recent events have provided us all with a view of just how distorted the public’s view of celebrities has become, and I’d like to take a moment to discuss the issue. 

I’m fairly certain it’s impossible for anyone to have escaped the subject, so I’ll use the example of Miley Cyrus to reintroduce a repressed truth: Neither she nor any other celebrity owes us a thing. 

You probably feel like you know her. You knew she was Hannah Montana before Lily or Oliver had the slightest clue. You related to her struggles with Jackson and Amber and Ashley. You nearly died in the horrendous moments you were led to believe she picked Jesse instead of Jake. You’ll probably always remember the accented, vivacious girl with the magnetic personality and the squeaky-clean agenda who never existed. 

For a time, that character could have closely resembled the real Cyrus. She began filming “Hannah Montana” at age 12, with negligible experience in the public eye. But her future was predicted by the time she was 15, when Donny Osmond prophesied in Time magazine that “Within three to five years, Miley will have to face adulthood. ... As she does, she'll want to change her image, and that change will be met with adversity.” 

And here we are, at the dawn of the world post-2013 VMAs. It’s a far more risque place than we ever imagined, but we’re partly to blame, and here’s why. 

There’s an incredible lack of distinction made between celebrities and their work. We relate to the music they create or the characters they portray, and the stronger the relation is, the more we blur the lines between the artists and their art. We forget the aspect of the entertainment industry. 

These people are the faces of a business that plays a huge part in our everyday lives and, after a certain point, it really feels like an interaction — but our adulation of Hollywood personalities doesn’t constitute relationships with them. It’s insane to expect complete strangers to align themselves with our values and speak without reserve about their personal lives, but it’s what we do because we tell ourselves we know them after we read their tweets and interviews. 

Celebrities have a platform because we give it to them in exchange for a job well done, but we give it under the half-baked, narcissistic assumption that they live to please. Eventually, some tire of this and are prompted to extend nationally broadcast metaphorical one-finger salutes in varying degrees of flamboyance — and for some reason this surprises us. 

I’m not going to evaluate Cyrus’ actions. My opinion is that she did what she felt she had to do in order to make it clear that Hannah Montana snuffed it the moment the show ended and Miley Cyrus isn’t targeting tweens. Whether we agree with her actions or not, they were effective. 

Lesson being, celebrities will always stir the pot, but they aren’t obligated to answer to us when we don’t like it — and we don’t have to like it. Everyone’s capable of changing channels, canceling subscriptions or abstaining from purchases. We put them in the spotlight; we can take them out. Worry about your image first, and simply agree to disagree. Because some people, uh, can’t be tamed. 

Kersey Reynolds is a music nerd in her junior year at Dobyns-Bennett High School. She relays her opinions, obsessions and outrages regarding the music industry every six weeks in “The Mosh.” 

(Note: The opinions expressed on the INK page are those of the columnists and not necessarily those of the Times-News).


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