Occasionally, fans ’moral expectations have a sense of political activism, or voter demands from politicians: the power of celebrity influence is given by the audience, after all, and can be revoked. As Jenny Odell wrote in her book, How to Do Nothing, “attention may be the last resource we have left to withdraw.”
Protest in the personal space of a policy maker is one thing, when that person’s decisions directly affect the everyday life of citizens. (It certainly was it happens often lately – protests in the homes of Supreme Court judgesfor example, or Senator Ted Cruz faced around gun control while eating sushi with his family.) But the events described in detail at the Heard-Depp trial included a domestic dispute. What responsibility do these figures owe to the public?
All of these lectures, banter, and name-calling can also be seen as the way the moral police we see on social media run on the sidewalk. As illustrated by that “gold digger” moment, personal condemnations of celebrity behavior can have all the fury of a fire war on Twitter. The normalization of these reactions of fans reveals an increasingly intense intersection between online and real, where the actions of prominent people become parables for weak moral codes.
It is also worth noting that we are in an era where fans are straining an unprecedented impact on our popularity cultural narratives – bringing back canceled TV shows and even moving plots based on fan theories. This year alone, Oscar created a new award for a favorite movie of fans, which infuriated some traditionalists. See how the audience is used to being able to resurrect a loved one or inspire a spinoff show because a little superhero could also expect to be able to criticize celebrities for what to do in their personal lives.
“People don’t just want to watch anymore,” said Dr. Turkle. “They want to act.”
What is the effect of all this on celebrities themselves? While it may be difficult to garner sympathy for those who have a lot of money and power, the stakes are real, and it can be an injury. Ms. Heard spoke in court about the trauma of harsh public attention she received: “Every day I am mistreated, humiliated, threatened,” Ms. Heard he told the court during the trial. “People want to kill me and they tell me that every day. People want to put my baby in the microwave and they tell me that. ”
Just as a celebrity benefits from the attention of her audience, so does she. In her memoir “My Body,” model and actress Emily Ratajkowski spotted this complicated power dynamic. “In my early twenties, it never occurred to me that women who gained their power from beauty were indebted to men whose desire gave them that power,” she wrote. “Those men were the ones in control, not the women the world liked.”
Being the subject of intense fan fascination can be difficult for both male and female celebrities, of course, but the dynamics shown at the Heard-Depp trial seem to reflect the gender dynamics of society. Mr. Depp managed to mobilize his fans and so-called “stans” in his favor, and many he seemed to enjoy Mrs. Heard’s humiliation.