For NYU students, it is not uncommon to see Alec Baldwin walking his dog or Amanda Seyfried ordering coffee. Students are surrounded by celebrities every day, both inside and outside of the classroom. It is easy to become starstruck. The reactions when approaching these famous individuals can vary. Some celebrities will kindly take a picture, while others may look annoyed or ignore fans.
Still, there is no shortage of celebrities treating their fans disrespectfully, from mocking fans to refusing to acknowledge them. Despite the distastefulness of such behavior, some dismiss celebrities’ obnoxious conduct as customary, as if rudeness comes with the territory of fame. Regardless of this perception, occurrences of celebrities being rude to their devoted fans is inexcusable.
When celebrities enter the entertainment industry, they forfeit having a reasonable expectation of privacy. Once a music, television or movie contract is signed, the performer must accept that there is a strong possibility that he or she will not be able to saunter into a coffee shop unrecognized. Denying this truth is counterintuitive. Success in the entertainment industry is largely contingent on recognition — the more people who recognize one’s work, the more likely it is to be commercially successful.
One notable musician who cannot avoid critique for his controversial interactions with fans is Kanye West, whose concert I attended last year. Several times during the show, he thanked his fans and said he would be nowhere without them. While I admire West as an artist, his thankfulness is double-edged. He is constantly seen strongly opposing anyone who shows him public attention and admiration. In October 2013, he said he and other celebrities are treated like “zoo animals.”
While celebrities often are placed on pedestals, they cannot be fully exempted from obnoxious behavior. Maintaining one’s public image is — for better or worse — an implicit yet crucial part of working in the entertainment industry. Fans devotedly pay to see their favorite actors’ films or musicians’ concerts. Being respectful to fans is hardly a small price to pay for the role they play in supporting a celebrity’s career. Without question, celebrities should not have to entertain stalkers who intrusively follow them around. They do not have to take pictures with every single person that sees them, nor eat lunch with every fan who talks to them. What they do owe to their enthusiastic and devoted supporters is gratitude.
A version of this article appeared in the Oct. 27 print edition. Email Miranda Licthman at [email protected]