’ve googled if Kylie Jenner is pregnant five times in the past week. Not because I really care if there will be another heir to the Kardashian fortune, or because I need to consistently Keep Up With the Kardashians. No, I’ve spent that much time with this miniscule question because no one knows the answer.
If I would’ve scrolled mindlessly through my Facebook feed and seen “Kylie Jenner Announces Pregnancy,” I could’ve moved on with my life. I would’ve scrolled by the news without even a second glance. But these questions that celebrities refuse to answer wander in the forefront of our minds, simply because when we’re told we can’t know something, we want to know it more.
Celebrities should respond to tabloid rumors so we can stop taking pictures, speculating, and making their lives more difficult by trying to get the answer.
Celebrities are entitled to their privacy with personal matters, and it can be overwhelming to have the same questions about their lives be the only things people can ask about. Usually, there are better things to talk about. But there’s a simple solution — just giving a simple yes or no answer to our biggest questions. Then, we can move on.
When we see celebrities seeming to shy away from giving a clear-cut answer, it is only natural to wonder if they do this intentionally. Vanity Fair columnist Maureen Orth believes that a “celebrity–industrial complex” exists, meaning that there is relationship between celebrities and business corporations. Celebrities who constantly search for attention and tabloids that constantly search for catchy headlines support each other. Even negative headlines can lead to money and opportunities for a celebrity. As the famous saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad press.
Jennifer Aniston has been subjected to a pregnancy rumor for decades. Every time she seems to have gained a few pounds, people are congratulating her on her pregnancy. Instead of letting these rumors continue, she released an open letter stating that she was not pregnant, and furthermore did not feel like she needed to have a family to be fulfilled. Her action was powerful. It allowed her to stand up for herself and write her own narrative. She made other women feel like they could share their own experiences. And since then, she has been asked the question much less.
Celebrities are not clueless about our fascination, and in a way, holding their secrets over us gives them power. They can continue to tease and fool us, but then claim we have no right to their personal life. In the case of a family like the Kardashians who seem to share everything, it seems almost hypocritical for Kylie not share the big news of her pregnancy. It’s as though by being a part of that family, she is required to be completely open.
Scholars have found that gossip is a social skill rather than a character flaw. Celebrities are part of our lives, whether we actively watch their movies, listen to their music, or read articles about them in newspapers. Celebrities are a shared experience. We may not have any mutual friends with someone, except for celebrities. We can all remember hearing big pieces of celebrity news, and sometimes these tidbits actually have an effect on us.
For our parents, it was hearing about the death of Princess Diana. My mom tells me she distinctly remembers turning on her tiny TV set and feeling the shock of the world. For us, it may have been when Britney Spears had her mental breakdown, or when Michael Jackson died. Events like these are cultural cornerstones, and are often unforgettable.
As viewers and fans, we need to be able to strike a balance between allowing celebrities their privacy with issues that are truly personal, but also being a “friend” for them throughout their very public highs and lows.
Sometimes, publicity attention can be harmful and scary, but other times it can be incredible. The difference can be seen in the contrast between the millions of tears shed mourning Princess Diana, and the millions of laughs had at Britney Spears’s expense. If we expect celebrities to give us the answers to our speculations, we must take the first step by treating them like people, rather than just pretty faces on a screen.
Images courtesy of TMZ.