How has 2014 fared for you, darlings? To me personally, it’s been an interesting cycle of “out with the old, in with the new” through the year. For better or worse, only time will tell later.
But I’m just the little commoner me. What if the similar tune has been playing for the celebrities who live mostly under the ever watchful public eye? Not only the magnitude of their life’s dynamics are amplified to warrant headlines, each twist and turn is dissected oh-so-thoroughly by every fan and his or her cousin that if you miss reading the initial headline by two days you’ll need to catch up to 3-4 versions later.
Pity is what some people including myself sometimes feel. It’s one thing to bicker with family, butt heads at work, have a bad hair’s day or get jilted by lovers– it’s another to go through the drama realizing every stranger under the sun knowing and commenting.
Take the blossoming relationship between Noah’s frontman Ariel with actress Sophia Latjuba. May-December romances always get tongues wagging. When the man is much older, it’s the aging-lothario-meet-gold-digger scenario. When the woman is much older, especially if the man doesn’t seem to have problems in finding mates his own age, as Ariel’s leaked videos a few years ago assured us he didn’t, it’s often worse—while English borrowed ‘cougar’ off the feline chapter on zoology books, Indonesian has long snidely named ‘tante girang’ (jubilant auntie) such woman.
Yet it’s not the ubiquitous ‘Eastern values’ that get the gossipy in us going, as some have earnestly suggested, because even Hollywood was fully enraptured when boyish Ashton Kutcher dated and wedded hot mama Demi Moore. When their marriage sizzled and reportedly sent now thrice-divorced Moore into depression, a schadenfreude tone mired the commentaries. It’s the sex part, the lack of offspring potential, or wealth inequality—everyone has a favorite bone to pick on.
I personally don’t subscribe too much into the notion that age difference makes all the difference. Time has changed, gender roles have shifted and expanded, not to mention that our understanding of human relationships has gradually improved by easier access to basic psychology and communication knowledge, so we are technically more equipped to manage age difference, of any gender combination, in romantic affairs. Having been raised by lovingly married older wife and younger husband, a.k.a. my parents, I may have a personal bias. But forget my non-celebrity parents. Away in Hollywood Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews were happily together for a long time, while here in J-town, as far as I know, former actor Onky Alexander remains with Paula Saroinsong, his much older businesswoman wife. So hey, who are we to rain on Ariel and Sophia’s parade?
Some people say that celebrities reserve no rights to complain for having to live under public scrutiny. To a large extent, I agree. As most things in life, fame has two sides—one that brings in all the riches and glory, and the flipside that gives away certain comfort like privacy. Until recently that’s where the tug war has been, where celebrities plead for a certain degree of privacy, mostly for their delicate family members, away from the prying eyes of public and paparazzi (the notable example being the one issued by their parents, and mostly honored by media, when Prince William and Prince Harry entered boarding school).
But what about the celebrities who actively invite attention towards themselves? Hollywood’s collective jaw dropped during the Hilton sisters’ era, and is perhaps perpetually plastered on the ground now that the Kardashian sisters rule the flatscreens by literally airing their utmost private life through their popular, albeit train wreck, of reality show. The tell-all, bare-all kind of show where audience is not even allowed to not crossing the too-much-information barrier in every other episode.
The trend is now thrust into our living rooms through terrestrial TV program that chronicles and shows live the full length of local celebrities’ wedding… and birthing. Yes, you read that right. Never mind that terrestrial TV use public channels accessible to viewers of all social stature and age group. Never mind that unsuspecting children really don’t need to learn the hairsplitting minutiae of Raffi Ahmad’s pre-nuptial fuss before marrying Nagita S. Tengker, or how far exactly Asyanti’s womb has contracted and creaked open to deliver Anang’s first child with her. Never mind that the term ‘royal baby birth’ used to describe the live delivery surpassed hyperbole into linguistically incorrect (any royal family involved in the conception?). Never mind that, perhaps, after fussing long about Raffi’s previous, tumultuous May-December romance with Yuni Shara we’d be just fine with just a regular news of him moving on to marry the youthful Nagita.
Did those live programs get high ratings? I bet you a month’s subscription of AC Nielsen media monitoring that they did. Curiosity is a mighty force that gets full-throttle once fed by juicy tidbits although, and I doubt the show-all celebs inherently understand, the high ratings do not necessarily correlate with loving fans. Half of the eyeballs may belong to those looking for the latest flaw and stupidity to fry, as Syahrini’s Instagram postings’ inclusion into gossip fodders on social media platforms have attested to. I genuinely wonder, are these celebs ready for the days their kids’ snapshots splashed next to headlines like “Look How Baby Celeb X Has Inherited Her Mommy’s Cellulite-Infested Thunder Thighs” a la National Enquirer and turned into a vicious meme virally circling the globe twice before the celeb has time to explain to their precious tot what a cellulite is?
Out with the old, in with the new. Life’s up and down, as certain as morning dew. Celebs seem untouchable, but basically are humans like us. Juicy or not the details, is up to the celebs’ fate. How far the details to feed to the insatiable public curiosity is increasingly up to the celebs’ own PR take, though dubiously in the long run is for their own good sake.
We shall see.