A reminder that you don’t know your favourite celebrity like you think you do
Back in 2019, I happened to stumble upon a YouTube channel that was gaining a massive following online: All Gas No Breaks. The channel showcased the leading man, Andrew Callaghan, as he interviewed regular people across the United States.
This content, along with Callaghan’s subsequent YouTube channel, Channel 5, helped entertain me throughout the pandemic. More than that, it inspired me. Callaghan is a young man just like me, and his content grew with both of us, evolving from simple interviews of drunk people on the streets to coverage of various protests and movements across America.
Without Callaghan’s content, I’m not sure if I would have ever pursued journalism here at UVic with the passion that I did. So, I was excited when Channel 5’s debut HBO-produced documentary — This Place Rules — was released, which chronicled the leadup to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the capitol.
I loved the film, and after watching it I recommended it to not only my friends, but to my entire journalism class. I even included it in an early draft of my “best new movies” guide. Later that night as I was doing my daily scrolling online, I came across an upsetting Reddit thread.
Andrew Callaghan had been accused by multiple women of sexual assault.
He admitted that these accusations were true in a now-deleted Instagram video, and he has since disappeared from the internet.
This forced me to really take a step back and reevaluate the people I look up to, and why I look up to them in the first place. I wondered, does it make sense to idolize someone that you don’t know at all?
Because at the end of the day, you don’t know them. Not even in the slightest. Even if you’ve been obsessed with a celebrity most of your life, consumed every piece of their media, and watched every interview with them, you still don’t know them.
I find this can be especially hard with musicians. After listening to four or five albums of a singer baring their soul to you with their art, it can be difficult to not feel like you’re in some way close to them.
Their job is to create an image of themselves with the intention of gaining and retaining popularity. How can you be sure that any “candid” videos of your favourite celebrities haven’t gone through teams of PR specialists, all working together to help craft the most attractive and alluring version of these people?
With the invention and popularization of the internet and social media, it’s become easier now than ever to realize just how many idolized people are actually horrible. It can be incredibly disheartening to see one of your favourite rappers devolve into a raging anti-Semite, or to find out that an inspiring movie director married his own stepdaughter. There’s a reason that the phrase “never meet your heroes” exists.
Living in a post-Me Too world, I find it almost ridiculous that we still blindly idolize celebrities. Assuming any rich or famous person to be a genuinely good person should not be standard.
Now, I’m not telling you to give up all hope and assume that every celebrity you look up to is a monster. It’s important to have things in your life that inspire you. Enjoy the art that people create and appreciate hearing new and different perspectives on life.
But be careful before putting anyone on a pedestal. Celebrities, at the end of the day, are just people, too. And people, for the most part, can be pretty flawed.