The Problem with Loving Problematic Celebrities

Photo : Rachel Mandel

I’ve never been one for celebrity crushes. I never really saw the point of spending your time and emotions on someone that you’ll likely never meet, let alone find that they reciprocate your feelings. I was amazed by the ability of one of my high school friends to dream about men she would never meet. Honestly, it was probably one of the reasons I stopped being her friend.

She had Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth as her phone lock screens and home screens. She talked about them daily to me. Not just about how much she loved them, but about the lives she had planned for herself with either one or both of her crushes. She spent so much time of her time, wasted, planning and dreaming of men she would never meet. I felt that she could have spent her time more effectively by thinking about college or putting the energy into our friendship instead of sending me a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style Avengers fanfic. She inadvertently made herself an example of what I never wanted to let myself do.

I later discovered that I’m not completely immune to the phenomenon, especially when it comes to A$AP Rocky’s beautiful jaw structure and voice. I have many memories of hearing his laments about his taste in women while drinking shitty vodka in a sticky, crowded frat basement from my freshman year of college. The beat of his music and fun lyrics caused everyone who heard them to dance. I fell even deeper in love with him after the release of his second album. At.Long.Last.A$AP changed my life and my phone died several times from playing it on loop during the summer of 2015.

He became my celebrity crush. I let myself indulge, but I made sure not to let myself go overboard like my high school friend had. I kept it to talking to others about his music, tweeting about my love for his new, sophomore album, and keeping this album on repeat.

Earlier this year, the outcome I had dreaded most of having a celebrity crush came to life. He broke my feminist heart. My beloved rapper-turned-movie-star declared his allegiance to “all lives matter,” claiming that Black Lives Matter is a “bandwagon.” AND he truly believes that Bill Cosby is innocent. I was crushed, no pun intended.

I couldn’t believe someone who I had considered to be amazing, eloquent, and intelligent could say such things. To me, his words represented the racism and sexism that are so rampant and important to fight against. They undermined the experiences of millions of Black Americans and survivors of sexual assault. His horrible statements deeply affected my opinion of him and the things I think about when I listen to his music. Listening to his music now evokes feelings of guilt now instead of joy like it used to. I still can’t believe someone I had admired so greatly could be so incredibly wrong.

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in the lesson and I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised given the lyrics of his songs. Putting your feelings and hopes into someone famous rarely seems worth it. I know I am not the only one who has been guilty of making assumptions about the celebrities they admire. We all often feel the need to connect with our celebrity crushes on a level beyond their work. When they disappoint us or ruin the image we have created for them in our minds, we are stuck having to decide if we want to continue indulging in their work or if we are able to separate their work from the artist. The decision can be difficult and we are forced to trust ourselves.

 I really wish A$AP Rocky could listen to the voices of survivors and Black Lives Matters activists. His lack of understanding is devastating not only to myself but thousands of other people who may or may not have considered themselves a fan before he made these statements.

In the meantime, I will require myself to think more critically about the celebrities I admire and the music I listen to. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson for real but Blake Griffin might change my mind.

Hannah Nobbe : Self-proclaimed Riot Grrl with an affinity for lipstick, spaghetti, and all things velvet