Slug: Feelings for Famous People



January 14, 2005

Sybil Priebe

Opinion Editor


Sympathy. Obsession. Adoration. Hatred.

The American culture has the ability to feel emotions for just about everyone but the folks who live here, or so it seems. We dabble our monetary fingers in the Middle East and yearn to mold them into another screwed up democracy, we send our prayers and dry food over to the Tsunami victims, and we collaboratively hate certain countries just for fun. We are all about throwing our feelings and emotions across an ocean.

Once in a great while, we hurt at home. When a figure of the American public dies, like Jerry Orbach or Chris Farley, we pause where we are and feel sorrow for someone we donÕt know.  If a sports figure or music mogul gets killed (Dale Earnhardt Sr., John Lennon, Tupac, etc), the whole country mourns whether they knew the people well enough to know their favorite color or not.

So, why is it that when I felt sorry for the separation of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, just last Friday, I got laughed at, scoffed at, by my siblings and friends? Are we only allowed to feel for those who die or who are far away in some tragic region?

If we personally donÕt need to know these people in order to feel for them (whether the feeling is sadness or glee), then why is it more silly and laughable to feel sympathy for a relationship that has dispersed? When a famous couple (political or not) gets hitched, we are happy for them even though we wonÕt get invited to the reception. So, whatÕs the difference?

When it comes to feelings for people we hardly know across an ocean in turmoil or people right here at home who have difficulties ahead, one thing is certain- we can not judge them or the people that feel for them. I didnÕt laugh at people who were heart-broken over Kurt CobainÕs death, so I donÕt need to be laughed at when I shed a tear during the last episode of Sex and the City.