Where there are celebrities, there are fans.
When news releases about a celebrity, fans seem to automatically assume they have personal knowledge of the celebrity as if they are a part of this person's life.
For example, after comedian John Mulaney came out of rehab, divorced his wife of 6 years, Anna Marie Tendler and started dating Olivia Munn, many of Mulaney’s fans took to Twitter to express their feelings about the situation. Loyal fans felt betrayed by Mulaney, believing that the comedian they ‘know’ would never act with ill-intent.
i don’t care about john mulaney truly but building ur whole schtick on being a wholesome guy who loves his wife just to cheat on her in rehab and have a baby with another woman to THEN go on and make jokes about his “ex wife” while not even actually divorced yet is cruel ??— shelby (@COlNTELPRO) September 28, 2021
Speculation about Mulaney’s personal life aside, the uproar surrounding the comedian has started a larger dialogue about parasocial relationships.
A parasocial relationship is a one-sided psychological relationship between audiences and performers they ‘interact’ with regularly. Audience members feel so familiar with their favorite performers that they feel as if they know the star personally, like a friend or family member.
This may sound insane, but it makes sense. We, the audience, get to have an intimate look into celebrities’ personal lives through social media. There’s a sense of closeness when Florence Pugh shows us what she’s cooking or when Doja Cat posts a TikTok draft from her home.
But this lack of boundary between artist and fan is starting to go too far.
In the case of Mulaney, his fans felt disappointed when the comedian ditched his ‘good guy’ stage persona seemingly in an instant. They criticized the performer for moving on too fast, potentially cheating on his ex-wife and preparing to have a baby mere months out of rehab.
Fans fail to realize that they have no real involvement in a celebrity’s life or decisions. Just because one watches a celebrity’s Instagram story every day or likes all of their tweets does not mean that one has a genuine connection to them.
While it's normal to feel disappointed when someone you care about does something wrong, there is a point where these feelings become unhealthy.
Berating Mulaney on the internet won’t change what he’s done. Pretending like you know everything about his life and the circumstances of his decisions is borderline creepy.
As a massive fan of many things myself, I understand the feeling of caring so deeply about an artist that it feels like we know each other.
However, you should remind yourself you are just a fan, not a friend.
Adoring celebrities and being a fan of their work is fine, but it’s important to remember that you can never personally know someone that you support and that it’s not your place to know everything about their personal lives.