opinion

Why We Are Obsessed with Celebrity Breakup Scandals

todayOctober 11, 2022 25

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By Celeste Parler
Web Content Contributor

Last semester, I wrote a blog post about the celebrity couple phenomenon taking over the news and social media. In the last few weeks, I have noticed a parallel that cannot be overlooked. Like in the spring, I cannot scroll past five TikToks without seeing someone comment on the growing number of cheating celebrity husbands. This inexcusable behavior and other factors have caused a number of celebrity breakup announcements.

There are too many examples of couples in the public eye that have split in 2022 and in the last few years to mention here. Some couples leave the world heartbroken and confused about how a perfect pairing could ever break up. Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart’s breakup in 2020 is an example of this type of couple that comes to mind.

Unfortunately, more and more celebrity breakups are surrounded by controversy and scandal. In September, Instagram model Summer Stroh spoke out after having an affair with Adam Levine while his wife was pregnant. Another couple who received mass media coverage after a leaked cheating scandal concerned former Try Guy Ned Fulmer. Although at the time of writing Ned and Ariel Fulmer have not announced their relationship status, many Internet users are convinced the two will break up.

The internet has come together to label Fulmer, Levine and John Mulaney as the trifecta of dishonest men that mistreated their wives. These “wife guys” were known for generous displays of affection and talking about how much they loved their partners. But now with these scandals brought to the surface, it has everyone asking what was real and what wasn’t.

Cheating scandals are not the only type of breakup scandal happening in Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio is infamous for dating women under the age of 25, and the same pattern continued into 2022. Yet DiCaprio is currently 47 and has not dated a woman near his age since the early 2000s.

We know that modern celebrity culture as it remains today in the late 20th century. Celebrities and celebrity couples became known as products and set the trends for average people. But the fact is that celebrity breakups have been the subject of mass media for decades prior. Famous duos such as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and Sonny and Cher shocked America after each of their splits, each couple lasting for over a decade.

Just like in my previous post, the age of influencer has redefined what it means to be a public figure or a celebrity. No one, including the Try Guys themselves, could have predicted how mainstream this Internet controversy could become.

A cork board hanging on a wall displays three sets of black and white photos of three now broken-up celebrity couples. The couples shown are Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Each couple is physically split with space in between the torn photos.
There are several celebrity couples that have since broken up that the world is heartbroken over.

Most millennials and other older adults have brought up a fair point on recent celebrity breakup scandals: why do we care? What makes these breakups so important for the world to stop everything and take notice?

This lack of care for celebrity breakup scandals was the subject of a controversial Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch. On October 9th, SNL aired the sketch portraying the Try Guy’s response to Fulmer’s scandal as exaggerated and not worth paying attention to.

As a long-time Try Guys fan, I was appalled by how SNL writers downplayed Fulmer’s act of beginning an illegal workplace relationship with an employee. It highlighted to me the likely workplace environment of entertainment collectives like SNL.

Just like the Try Guys SNL sketch, the amount of dishonest, manipulative men in the public eye highlights a larger issue at hand within the entertainment industry. I believe the reason we must stay aware of these examples of misconduct is to keep public figures and the industry at large accountable. Clearly, the public has concern for the parties involved and can influence mass media coverage by way of social media content creation and engagement.

After the internet found connections between the “wife guys,” women have gone to social media to warn others about the dangers of this type of romantic partner. These specific controversies have become talking points for how to take notice of red flags in a relationship. As many women have pointed out, manipulative partners often feel the need to compensate for the well-being of their relationship to outsiders. Speaking about how good of a partner you are to the public cannot make up for a lack of respect in the relationship.

The actions of celebrities like Levine and Fulmer have real consequences for the women and families involved. I would argue that these men’s actions have a larger impact on young consumers of mass media. If these men could get away with destroying families and relationships, what message does that convey to the next generation of husbands and fathers? Should women be expected to stay with partners that show one side of themselves to the world and hide secrets from everyone close to them?

This misconduct cannot be diminished by claiming that “everything happens for a reason.” At the end of the day, no one could have prevented anyone from cheating on their spouse or behaving predatorily toward younger women. No celebrity relationship is the same, and many remain unproblematic or even aspirational. But we will never know what brings some men to stoop so low. It is up to us if we will put up with the same patterns of infidelity, misogyny and manipulation in the entertainment industry or if we will determine the standard for the people we look up to.

Written by: Hannah Walls

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