Why I secretly want celebrities to fail

August 7, 2019  |  people / psychology  |  No Comments

Ok. I’m going to be real with you right now and I’m well aware that it will not make me look good. But there is a part of me that quite enjoys seeing celebrities fail. Whether it’s marriage breakdowns or public scandals, their creative projects bombing on a grand scale or them simply getting dragged for being socially unaware and generally tone-deaf to the current cultural climate.

Now I don’t generally enjoy basking in the suffering of others. Schadenfreude is a big ugly German word and, I mean, I’m not a psychopath (I know, I’ve done the test). So I’ve been curious about why I derive pleasure from seeing – what are essentially – other human beings fuck up.

I first thought it was the reassuring thought that “celebrities are people too” and they make mistakes. This would then make me feel better about my own mistakes. However, I think this reasoning is far too magnanimous to explain my reactions.

So I started re-evaluating our relationship with celebrities. Generally, they are quite shallow, curated and voyeuristic. Unless we’re close friends with a celebrity, we don’t know that much about them besides the fact they are publicly recognised in their given field, have a large platform through which to communicate and are (probably) wealthy.

Now how do we define/understand the following…?

  • Recognized in one’s given field
  • Has large platform through which to communicate/access resources
  • Wealthy

If you’re anything like me, you might see the former points as a clear representation of objective success. These celebrities are often living, breathing icons of “success”. So when someone successful stumbles, fails or fucks up in some way, it’s almost indicative of the fact that they can’t have it all. They can’t have the success and the happy relationship, or success and the smart kid who gets into college off their own back, or success and a first-class law degree.

This type of objective “success” is seen as its own reward. And a pretty lush one at that. Why should these people need more – when it seems like they have so much already? Perhaps I enjoy their failure (as Scrooge-ish as it seems) because it evens the playing field?

There’s plenty wrong with this way of thinking – enjoying the failure of others is a definite “dick-move” mindset. But it does provide me some insight into my personal insecurities and shortcomings as well as a little perspective on a few issues, namely:

  • The mindset of scarcity, e.g. the more someone else has, the less there will be for me.
  • My personal concept of success, e.g. what does it mean to live a successful life? What do I need in order to consider myself a success?
  • Judgement e.g. why do I react with hostility to other people? What is it about them that makes me feel threatened?

 I’m going to explore these points in some future blogs to see if I can get a little more wise in these departments. Do you ever recognise these issues at the heart of any of your dick-move mindsets? Lmk.  



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