- Celebrity News -We're Not Nicer To Celebs These Days, We're Just Meaner To Their Bullies
Twenty twenty-one was a year of redemption and reckoning for the early 2000s celebrity. Britney Spears became both a heroine to the masses and a north star for how we should treat celebrities in the media moving forward, especially women. But if Santa were to pull out his list, would we all make it to the nice column? Has all the “mean girl” behavior that’s been widely accepted on social media and commonplace in gossip rags for so long actually stopped, or has it simply shifted focus?
Just before the start of the year, on December 12, 2020, Perez Hilton was permanently banned from TikTok for violating community guidelines. Perez had been a defining voice of the elder millennial and xennial generations, giving license to mock the famous with his crude (and largely phallic) MS paintbrush edits to celebrity photos. It delighted us 15 years ago, but it’s not 2007 anymore, and as Perez learned, times have changed.
After posting the comment: “Anyone else think it’s inappropriate for a 15-year-old to dance to this?” on one of Charli D’Amelio videos, Charli’s followers became enraged and began to mass report Perez’s TikTok account. Charli fans accused him of clothes shaming her (she was in a bikini at the beach) and didn’t like that Perez was attempting to start a feud with a minor.
Hilton doubled-down, posting about Charli’s relationship status, and then he shaded her dad for a 2014 drunk driving arrest. Charli’s followers (which currently number over 130 million) didn’t like this one bit.
Picking a fight with Charli was clearly a rookie mistake for the seasoned blogger; it was those dancing videos that amassed Charli’s cult-like following in the first place and made her the most-followed creator on the app. This revolt by the D’Amelio army seemed to signal a new era in how we treat celebrities – be protective, be loyal – and signaled a new era in how we treat those who mistreat celebrities – be apologetic, then be gone for good.
A tearful apology video and multiple pleas to TikTok by Perez were in vain, and he was banished from the platform.
We also learned in 2021 that celebrities are held just as accountable as normals (and/or celeb bloggers) for their transgressions. The February release of the New York Times’ Framing Britney Spears documentary detailed how horrifying Spears’ conservatorship was and made us realize the part we played in fueling the perception of Britney and her life. Why didn’t we call out Diana Sawyer for the awful line of questioning during her interview with Spears, we asked ourselves. Why didn’t we realize Justin Timberlake was the actual villain back then?
After the Britney doc showed us a side of Timberlake we hadn’t previously acknowledged, we immediately came to the defense of Janet Jackson who had been left out to dry after the Super Bowl Nipplegate scandal. Timberlake issued apologies to Spears and Jackson, and Janet, later in the year, also got the New York Times Presents documentary treatment.
Think pieces declared Timberlake dead, so to speak, and more announced his cancellation. In August, Timberlake and family moved from Los Angeles to Tennessee.
Former Queen of Twitter Chrissy Teigen lost her crown in 2021 after Courtney Stodden revealed how Teigen's past bullying had harmed them. (Stodden came out as non-binary in April 2021.) The DMs Teigen sent to Stodden were only the tip of the iceberg, and Chrissy’s entire Twitter history was scrutinized, revealing equally nasty comments made about Lindsay Lohan.
Teigen made multiple mea culpas in an attempt to repair the damage but still continues to receive public backlash. She lost jobs and brand partnerships, and announced in October that she quit drinking. This weekend, she was publicly shamed for bathing with her children and sharing a photo of it.
The bullies have become the bullied, and Perez, Teigen, Timberlake and even Sawyer can’t escape the relentless trolls who will not let them forget what they’ve done.
In this generation of tolerance, acceptance, and kindness, there is no room for bullying so long as you are on the “right side.” Making fun of or mocking someone who is perceived as ignorant, intolerant, or a “Karen” isn’t seen so much as bullying but instead, karmic justice.
Have we actually become kinder towards celebrities, or just meaner towards those we think are deserving of it? In a world where the Herman Cain awards exist, it feels like the latter.