Some celebrities don’t ask for fame. Others do, obviously, by working hard to succeed. However, whether or not superstars desire the attention, by the time of their first tabloid headline, they have to accept that their life as they know it is now open to public opinion and scrutiny.
Some celebrities attempt to maintain some anonymity, either by concealing their face like Sia, asking the paparazzi to leave them and their family alone as Blake Lively did, or choosing to never publicly speak about their relationships such as Dolly Parton. These efforts, however, are often fruitless as the press can be ruthlessly investigatory and “sources close” to celebrities are often happy to divulge information. But something that most celebrities should know by now, whether or not they asked for fame, is that being in a relationship in the public eye also means any infidelity will almost always be made public.
As most people who keep up with pop culture will know by now, Adam Levine, the tattoo-clad, 43-year-old father of two, and lead singer of the Maroon 5 was accused of cheating on his wife for a year by the 23-year-old model Sumner Stroh. And she came with receipts: screenshots of her DMs with Levine which were, in one word, bizarre. In an Instagram statement, Levine claimed that he didn’t cheat but he did admit to “crossing a line” and that it was “the greatest mistake [he] could ever make.” More recent reports have claimed that Levine is attempting to repair his relationship with his pregnant wife, Behati Prinsloo, despite multiple women coming forward with similar claims.
Parallels were then drawn with a second headline that hit tabloids around the same time. Ned Fulmer, a popular Youtube creator who gained his fame with the Try Guys, was fired from the group due to having an affair with a producer from his media company. These cases feel similar because both Levine and Fulmer frequently spoke publicly about their marriages and the love that they have for their wives and family. Levine would gush about his wife and daughters and even included them in his music video for “Girls Like You,” combining his career and personal life in a way that not many artists choose to do. Fulmer, similarly, would talk about his wife in many of his videos and she even became part of a group called the Try Wives, consisting of the spouses of the Try Guys. Due to these public displays of affection from both men towards their wives and their family, the cheating scandals drew special, heightened attention from the media.
With the expansion of social media and the ability for literally anyone to impart their opinion on anything to everyone who will listen, celebrities have been more open about the impact of the media on their mental health and personal lives. But there is one question that I wish to consider from these recent situations of male celebrity infidelity: To what extent are celebrities deserving of criticism when they make their relationships public, and in turn their infidelity?
In most cases, I will argue that the media should criticise artists solely on their work and their public platform, not on their personal lives. However, in these situations of men who choose to make their relationships public, I do believe backlash from the media may be necessary when they cheat.
Because here is the truth behind cheating scandals such as these: an artist’s purpose is to get us, the audience, to believe in the work that they are presenting to us. We are not asking them to be our moral compasses or role models because, while they should understand the impact of their actions when having a public platform, more often than not they are simply a person with talent who doesn’t know how to handle fame, money, power, and attention, and they shouldn’t always be expected to. Even in marriages of everyday citizens, infidelity is common and not always for people outside of the relationship to judge. However, when celebrities choose to publicly display their personal life in one way in their art but later act on the contrary, which will inevitably also be made public, it is harder for us to believe in the art they are trying to pitch to us. Celebrities then must be willing to face the consequences of their actions, as should anyone, but in these cases that will be the judgement of the media. Celebrities also must be able to accept the impact on both their personal life and their career because they have not only violated the sanctity of marriage but also that of a loyal fan base.