Celebrities must follow moral expectations

Michael Colton, Entertainment Columnist

For a country that claims to stand up in the face of abuse, it makes sense that celebrities would be held to the same standard of conduct. However, the popularity of celebrities accused of violence and hate, particularly Chris Brown and Justin Bieber, show that this is not the case. Our country needs to expect more from our “idols.”

We are all aware of how Justin Bieber treats other people; we all saw the video of him spitting on his fans. We all know about his reckless driving and assault charges. We all claim to care. Yet, a great number of our peers helped pack the Allstate Arena when he came to Chicago last April. He may be guilty of several crimes, but that does not change the fact that he is one of the most popular artists in the world.

Bieber’s actions, while awful, are far from the worst things that a celebrity has done while retaining fame. It also seems as if we have forgotten about Chris Brown and his violent past.

In 2009, when Brown was accused by then-girlfriend Rihanna of severe domestic violence, we were all exposed to Brown’s cruelty. We watched as charges were filed and Brown was sentenced to prison time. It appeared as if justice was going to come down on a terrible man. This did not happen.

Since then, Brown has released four gold-certified albums, performed at the Grammys and has remained a major figure in pop-culture. If domestic violence was truly seen as a serious issue in society, none of this would have followed. Rather, Brown would have been put in jail, or forbid from achieving further success, just as any non-famous person would have been.

Unfortunately, this is not case. Twitter accounts have been born under the name “Beat Me Chris Brown!” and tweets have ridiculed Rihanna for speaking out about the abuse. This all serves to trivialize domestic violence and protect a beloved celebrity from true consequence. Similarly, the public remained silent when Emma Roberts was the subject of a domestic violence investigation after she beat up her boyfriend Evan Peters.

The issue of ignorance towards celebrity misconduct does not stop at Chris Brown and Emma Roberts, or even at domestic violence, for that matter. In 2006, Mel Gibson, famed actor and director, was arrested for DUI and, upon detainment, screamed a series of fierce anti-semitic statements. Since this incident, Gibson has released six films as an actor and director, including the new film Hacksaw Ridge, for which Gibson has been interviewed on Good Morning America. For a country founded on ‘equality,’ we have all too quickly forgotten about the hate that this man holds towards a very large portion of the public.

Allowing celebrities like Gibson, Brown and Roberts, who have shown a lack of compassion, morals or any respect towards the people they victimize, to remain famous shows that those in the public spotlight are not held accountable for their actions.

This goes against the very concept of ‘fame’ in itself. Celebrities are meant to be figures that we look to for inspiration and guidance; they are meant to be role models. Failing to hold them to the same moral standard as we do our peers not only makes this idolization fraudulent, but it brings our youth up with a skewed sense of empathy and ethics.

If celebrities are able to show a complete disregard for other humans and still remain famous, it is highly unlikely, impossible even, that the equity and morality that we strive for as a society will take hold. Thus, actors, musicians and all public figures who are shown to have done terrible things must face proper repercussions; they cannot be allowed to continue influencing the public. Our future, our morals and our society, depend on it.