It’s no secret that the Internet is deficient in moderation in anything. In my public shaming column I talked about the Internet’s villains: people who are vilified based on very small things. But it swings the other way too: there are certain people who are beloved on the Internet with oftentimes very little justification.
Places like Reddit and 4chan are very heavy on people who value the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and medicine. Thus, certain scientists receive a God-like status, like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye (which is also a result of the online obsession with ‘90s nostalgia). Don’t get me wrong, Tyson and Nye are obviously both pretty cool people, but do they deserve their deification? I’m not sure that anyone really does. When it comes to science, they are both treated as the be-all and end-all of any discussion, even though they’re just human beings like everyone else.
Celebrities are especially prone to this. Emma Watson is one person who is constantly fawned over, but the thing is, most people talking about how amazing she is aren’t talking about how she went to Brown or how she’s an ambassador to the UN, or an advocate for women’s rights. They just talk about how hot she got since starting out as Hermione in Harry Potter as an 11-year-old.
Another celebrity getting the fawning treatment is Jennifer Lawrence, though this is mostly because of her perceived down-to-earth demeanour. From her awkwardness around other celebrities, to constantly tripping (including when she won her Oscar), to always talking about the food she wants to eat, people love her because they can relate to her. She doesn’t seem like an unattainable celebrity, like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt or George Clooney. She’s like us, which makes people glom onto her to the point where it becomes annoying. On Buzzfeed alone there is article after article along the lines of “Sixteen moments Jennifer Lawrence was basically your best friend.” Yeah, it’s cool that she eats pizza, but shut up now, thanks.
Speaking of unattainable celebrities, someone who gets way too much fawning attention is Beyonce. I’m probably a little biased because I am not a fan (I think her voice is grating and her songs are simplistic), but to me it’s a little weird to treat her like a goddess or a queen just because she performs on stage. But every article about Beyonce will talk about how she’s perfect and the queen of everyone. There is no middle ground with her. What is particularly grating with her is that she is hailed as a feminist hero for controlling her career and singing in front of a big sign that said “FEMINIST,” completely ignoring that she constantly wears skimpy outfits and had a whole song about how obviously what every woman wants is to get married.
Then there are the nerd icons, who are all prone to obsession. Anyone who says Benedict Cumberbatch is not that good looking (and, heaven forbid, that BBC’s Sherlock is not that good) will get piled on; same with detractors of Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki in the Thor films and 2012’s Avengers.
I firmly believe that not all these people are genuinely obsessed with these celebrities. I think there’s a hivemind where some people jump on the bandwagon and then others believe this is how they should feel; the same phenomenon occurs with everyone who suddenly decided that Nickelback is the worst band in the world.
Loving a celebrity isn’t in itself bad (I myself am very fond of Gillian Anderson), but where it gets dicey is when the hivemind appears and others get harassed for not thinking these objects of affection are literally the greatest people in the world.