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Second Take: The obsession with celebrity relationships is getting out of hand

Kaylen Ho / Daily Bruin

By Sanjana Chadive

Jan. 24, 2024 3:58 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 25 at 7:58 p.m.

The public’s unhealthy obsession with celebrity relationships is nothing new.

On Sept. 24, 12-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift was spotted cheering Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce as his team defeated the Chicago Bears. The two thereafter left the game hand in hand – finally confirming their relationship after months of speculation. Since then, the high-profile pair has garnered significant attention from the media. Although it is difficult to deny the intrigue of celebrity relationships, society has clearly forgotten the difference between fascination and fixation.

Less than a week after Swift and Kelce were first seen together, erotica author Ivy Smoak announced she had spent three days writing an e-book titled “Roughing the Princess” after her fans supposedly demanded a “spicy romance” based on the real-life couple. The novel follows pop superstar “Tova Savor” and football player “Talon Kendrick” who embark on a secret romance, and it features several gratuitously detailed trysts.

[Related: Second Take: Uncovering the washed-out, white centered world of BookTok]

Given the clear similarities between Smoak’s protagonists and Swift and Kelce, readers immediately understood the story was undeniably inspired by the latter. Consequently, fans of the renowned personalities panned Smoak’s novella – and rightfully so. A pairing as high-profile as Swift and Kelce’s is bound to strike a conversation, but discussing their intimate lives is an obvious violation of privacy. Soon after its publication, “Roughing the Princess” was removed from Amazon, and any social media promotion of it was subsequently taken down.

One may argue that celebrities sign an invisible contract where their personal lives also belong to the public after they receive fame. Even though well-known individuals should expect a certain amount of societal scrutiny, they should still be allowed to live their own lives without a desperate writer wanting to know every detail of their relationship.

In fact, a few relationships have even ended because of the public’s constant surveillance. For example, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan broke up with Princess Diana because he could not handle the attention from the press. There is no reason two people cannot be together because some can’t fathom that even the most famous personalities deserve a private life as well.

Furthermore, individuals are drawn to celebrities’ love lives because they forget celebrities are people like them. This phenomenon is often the case with actors who have pursued relationships with their co-stars at some point in their careers. Audiences often forget that the characters on screen are, more often than not, fictional.

Earlier this week, actress Nikki Reed posted a TikTok of her alongside her husband, retired actor Ian Somerhalder. The video was harmless, but the comment section was flooded with corrosive remarks about how Somerhalder should get back together with his former “The Vampire Diaries” co-star, Nina Dobrev, despite the relationship ending a decade ago. Evidently, some fans can’t quite distinguish the line between fiction and reality.

Fans’ treatment of Reed exemplifies how the spouses of celebrities can be unjustifiably vilified because of a previous relationship. For instance, model Hailey Bieber has received thousands of hate comments comparing her to her husband Justin Bieber’s ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez. Gomez has even condemned such mistreatment and is in a new relationship, but some people don’t understand their inability to let go of the past can seriously hurt someone’s mental health.

[Related: Second Take: Parasocial relationships rising, fueled by unhealthy celebrity obsessions]

In the case of Swift and Kelce, the public most likely finds noteworthy entertainment value in the pair because a love story between the most famous singer in the world and one of the NFL’s best players is the fodder of fairy tales. Many have already started heavily speculating about them possibly getting engaged or even married this summer, despite the lack of evidence. Nevertheless, fairy tales aren’t real – and Swift and Kelce are. While it may be fun to surmise an extravagant wedding between two very well-known personalities, it is unhealthy to incessantly theorize about their future.

Ultimately, no one can control what people say or think about them – let alone celebrities. Almost everyone has talked about celebrity relationships at one point or another. However, fans and the media should still be able to differentiate between quiet admiration and overt obsession regarding the love lives of the well-known.

Celebrity love stories may be sweeter than fiction – but society’s obsession is more than sour.

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Sanjana Chadive | Lifestyle editor
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
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