Yesterday — following the release of her controversial interview in the newest issue of Glamour — Demi Lovato announced that she will be stepping out of the spotlight in 2017, all in an effort to focus on charity work…and to take a much-needed break from the industry.
So excited for 2017. Taking a break from music and the spotlight.. I am not meant for this business and the media
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) October 4, 2016
Lovatics immediately began questioning her decision — fearing for both the permanence of the hiatus, and the future of her music. Ultimately, Demi responded to the valid questions in that signature blunt honesty we admire her for.
What we need to realize is that Demi’s comments (and decisions) address a larger issue, far bigger than herself — and it has everything to do with social and mainstream media, and the new nature of internet fandom.
Now more than ever before, we’re seeing a growing number of celebrities attempt to escape — and later return to — the demanding lifestyle that goes hand-in-hand with superstardom today. Think about it — how many of your favourite stars have stepped back from their commitments, citing mental health issues like anxiety, or online attacks in the form of cyberbullying as the source? Chalking it up to “exhaustion” is an all-encompassing — and valid — reasoning that seems to be contagious among celebs.
Selena Gomez halted her Revival World Tour in an attempt to deal with “anxiety, panic attacks and depression,” linked to her Lupus diagnosis. Reports suggests she’s entered a rehab facility to face these challenges head on. We can’t help but highlight the timeline; Selena becomes the most followed person on Instagram — with a whopping 100 million people accessing her posts — then proceeds to cancel the remainder of her concert dates.
And she’s certainly not the first to do so — former One Direction member Zayn Malik has cancelled multiple shows in support of his solo record in recent months due to crippling anxiety.
— zayn (@zaynmalik) June 11, 2016
Camila Cabello of Fifth Harmony suddenly left the stage mid-performance at a show in St. Louis, and fellow member Lauren Jauregui broke down in the middle of performing “No Way” at the girl group’s concert in Phoenix. These young stars are finally publicly reflecting the impacts of changing and evolving internet celebrity culture.
Lauren started crying during No Way, my heart just shattered into a million pieces I’m- pic.twitter.com/LWjfjqA9sQ
— n (@dimplesregui) September 9, 2016
The pressure these stars face can be all-consuming, especially since fans expect — and often demand — access to their idols 24/7. Being able to interact with celebrities on Twitter — what was first considered a huge privilege — has now become a right. If an actor doesn’t send a birthday tweet or publicly address a co-star or famous squad member, they’re under fire.
And they can’t win either way — Justin Bieber received plenty of backlash for distancing himself from #Beliebers. While on his Purpose World Tour, he cancelled all meet-and-greet appearances — and then he took it a step further, telling fans he’d no longer pose for pictures. Then he straight up deleted his Instagram account after many of his 77 million followers began attacking his rumoured girlfriend Sofia Richie.
Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei also had to step away from social media — the singer was bashed by Fifth Harmony’s own fans after some misconstrued one of her responses in an interview:
She was subjected to intense cyberbullying, including horrific racial slurs that forced her to leave Twitter for a period of time.
— Normani Kordei (@NormaniKordei) August 5, 2016
Now, #Harmonizers are stuck trying to not be defined by a handful of fans who decided to ruin it for everyone else — because they truly are a positive bunch. But we’ve come to the point where we’re actually celebrating — throwing parties — when celebs make mistakes. There’s a difference between holding someone accountable for their actions, versus simply feeding into negativity.
Clearly this is a growing problem among many celebs. How is it that their own fans are causing them so much pain? It’s time for us to remember that these public figures do not owe us anything — they don’t have to retweet us or respond to our questions. However, it has become a big part of their job, one they are now distancing themselves from.
Social media — and Internet culture in general — is definitely a major factor, but it’s hard to put all the blame on fans. There will always be hecklers, trolls, and individuals just begging to be blocked — however, we need “real” supporters to lead by example, pushing fandoms to build people up, not tear them down.
While the mainstream media may have something to gain from all this — readers LOVE the drama, so the blogs/magazines/entertainment shows deliver — it’s time to break this cycle online.
Celebrity culture will always exist — but we’ve come to the tipping point where celebrities feel the only way to seek refuge is removing themselves from the public eye. You can’t mentally prepare yourself for an onslaught of hate — we’re all human beings with emotions. We don’t blame these stars for needing to create a safe space for themselves. At the same time, we don’t think fans should be censored — or submit to the power of celebrity. Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s time to treat these people the way we want to be treated — no worse, no better.
We need to acknowledge what we’re saying, and how we’re saying it — would you say the same things out loud to your idol that you comment, tweet or write online? We may have some sort of “relationship” with our favourite celebrities because of social media, but let’s not take that accessibility for granted — because it can, and will be taken from us. It already has.
Celebrities may have made the choice to be in the public eye — but we can also make a choice before hitting “send.”