Our obsessions with celebrity hardships is remorseless

By Meg Sharma

New relationships, break ups, marriages, pregnancies, what they wore to the shops and who they went on holiday with, are all articles you may have seen (or read) about a host of different celebrities. As a nation, we put their lives under a lens watching their every moment, with magazines and websites dedicated to documenting their every slip up.

There is no denying that celebrities put themselves in the public eye by sharing their lives with fans. In an age of social media they have more control of what they share, but this doesn’t stop the invasive attitude of the media. In most situations the media attention is what it is, but when a celebrity is in crisis don’t we owe them some space?

Ant McPartlin has been making international headlines in the last six months following his admissions to rehab, arrest after drink-driving and recent conviction. While his actions cannot be ignored, the attention being paid to his hardships is cruel and potentially pushing him further into his troubles.

Time and time again we’ve seen celebrities driven to breaking points, only to have it broadcast for all to see and ridiculed in years to come. Think of Britneys 2007 breakdown; in retrospect it is clear that she was going through an incredibly difficult time struggling with substance abuse, and mental health issues, yet you still see memes and jokes about having a Britney breakdown or being ‘this close to shaving your head’ in a moment of short stress.

McPartlin’s court case was very public with a large focus on his appearance. He went in to face his mistakes and the consequences, and was hounded by paparazzi and journalists who wanted to know about his recent divorce, whether Declan Donnelly was there and if they’re still friends, and how much money he was losing in the process. Imagine facing the hardest moments in your life, and having millions of people scrutinising your every behaviour? While many have been able to offer their sympathy and well wishes, this doesn’t mean the harsh spotlight isn’t still placed on Ant.

It’s a spotlight that will remain on him for the next few years, and no one will be able to view his return to presenting and further jobs without the context of his recent downfall. Perhaps this is warranted and comes with being a celebrity, but shouldn’t he be able to attend an event without hundreds of questions as to whether he’ll be drinking, or if he’ll be pushed over the edge again?

Many would argue that by putting themselves in the public eye, many A-list celebrities should expect to lose their rights to privacy, especially with an event that is so public. Ant could not have been in a more vulnerable situation. He’d made his comeback after going to rehab; an incredibly personal decision that could have been private, and was presenting some of the most popular shows on television. He has given so much to his audience, surely he is owed some time out of the spotlight?

Recovery and rehabilitation has been apart of many celebrities life stories, with constant media pressure playing an undeniable role. Respect and space during these times should be a given, but it’s clear that this is not the case. It’s rather barbaric, praying on someone in their most vulnerable time in order to get some clicks on a story. Really at times like this, any attention is bad attention. While we cannot turn a blind eye to the crime Ant committed, we can let him carry on with his recovery without observing his every step. We don’t need to know if he’s in rehab or not, or if he’s divorced, unless he wants to public to know. In many cases a celebrity will feel pressured to share their life with the world, and its important that we allow them the privacy they want and deserve.

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