Demi Lovato's Story Is About More Than Addiction

Public shaming and humiliation for celebrities is brutal.

Posted Jul 25, 2018

Pexel
Source: Pexel

Celebrities—males but especially females—are perhaps the biggest targets for online shaming. Generations of stars have endured the sniping and scrutiny of the gossip rags from Louella Parsons to modern versions like Perez Hilton and TMZ. But today’s online epidemic of hate has left them exposed directly to their millions of fans — or rather, anti-fans, because their comments can be fanatically brutal.

Women in Hollywood are routinely criticized for looking too old—or turning to extreme plastic surgery to stay young. They are shamed for being too heavy (think: Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson), too thin (like Tara Reid and Keira Knightley), or for possibly eating a hamburger (Selena Gomez, Kelly Clarkson, Anne Hathaway). CNN.com has a running slideshow tallying those who have been body shamed, now at 27 and counting. Even across the pond, there is a British show dedicated to the genre, Celeb Trolls: We’re Coming to Get You, which hunts down those who harass celebrities online.

Shaming, celebrity style

Demi Lovato shares in her recent documentary, Simply Complicated, her experiences with bullying from as early as her childhood. She doesn't escape cyber-shaming through her young adult life — addressing fat-shaming and body-shaming attacks. She's known for standing up to online bullies in ways that only celebrities can. 

“Stars have to develop a thick skin,” says publicist Howard Bragman, founder of LaBrea Media. “We live in polarized times and everybody's got an opinion.” How does he manage his celebrity clients from getting through the dreck? “I try to keep them away, not let them read the crap. It’s writing on the bathroom wall.”

What can we learn from celebrity shaming?

In an era of public shaming and cruelty, we're facing a corrosion of civility with the chances of people being digitally attacked more likely than not. Online shaming and bullying has no boundaries.

Although celebrities may have their army of assistants and publicists, they are still human and can carry the emotional pain that an average person does when they are hurting. 

  • Bad things happen to good people. You can succeed in spite of it. 
  • No one is immune to being emotionally torn down, but anyone can be an upstander too. Don't forward or engage in cruel content.
  • Shaming and hate doesn't define who you are. Only you can do that. 
  • It's okay to take a digital detox. We've watched many celebrities remove themselves from social media, either temporarily or permanently — you will survive. 

The Internet is the ultimate equalizer.

Celebrities take a bigger brunt of cyber-hate than most of us, so when we watch people like Demi Lovato struggling, whether from addiction or otherwise, if you don't have anything nice to say, do yourself a favor: Sign off.

References

Scheff, Sue: Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks, October 2017)

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