In Defense Of Some Famous People We Treated Poorly
It was simply not a vibe.
We’re living in a renaissance of vibes. What does that even mean? I am not sure, but what I am trying to say is: things are changing and we’re finally starting to realize our judgmental and cruel behavior towards certain celebrities was genuinely uncalled for.
Now, I am a very sensitive being so even the slightest of criticisms sends me packing. My sensitivity has stopped me from showing up on podcasts I used to love appearing on. The second I get the sense that people don’t like me, I am outta there! I don’t feel the need to subject myself to that. My appearances on Daily Zeitgeist come few and far between because of this fact. As much as I enjoy doing my own podcast, I don’t have the ability to take in the unwarranted criticisms. I don’t engage with my twitter mentions as much because I always fear the worst. After most appearances I just assume there will be backlash. It’s a stressful and toxic way to live. So I try to do it less. It’s unfortunate but I have to protect my sanity somehow. It’s probably one of the reasons I started this Substack. I can put my commentary out there while simultaneously hiding behind my written word. You can’t see or hear me!!
I don’t write any of this to compare myself to any of the people I am about to write about. Clearly, what I experience is NOTHING compared to what they endured. I want to make that VERY clear. I am a peasant speaking about the gods. All I am saying is, the very miniscule bullshit I have endured has given me more empathy for the real famous people who were actually hunted and dissected in the most devastating ways. Some of them took it with grace, some of them became monsters, and some of them lost their way. None of it was okay, though. I am glad we’re finally starting to acknowledge it, though.
There are a few that really stand out to me these days. There are, of course, more, but these are the people who are currently on my mind (thanks to the podcasts, autobiographies, documentaries, narrative television, and more I’ve been inhaling at warp speed.) I am talking about Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, Monica Lewinsky, Dennis Rodman, Meghan Markle, and somehow Michael Jordan? Let me explain that last one.
The Last Dance made me realize one thing: Michael Jordan was destined to become an asshole. We wouldn’t let him be any other way. He is one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. His name is synonymous with Jesus. In the height of his fame, you could go a random village in a lesser developed country and say his name and at least one person would know who you were talking about. That is true worldwide fame. And that comes with an aggressive price. He could not leave his house without being swarmed. He spent most of his time locked away in hotel rooms because leaving wasn’t an option. Now imagine being that famous in the 80s and 90s and also being a Black man. The world had thoughts on everything he did. Would they have had these same critiques if he was a white player? I think we know the answer to that one. He was critiqued on his gambling, if he stayed quiet on politics, his game play, and much more. Don’t get me wrong, I do think he’s an asshole who could have handled certain situations a lot better. Fuck them kids, right? Republicans buy shoes, too, right? But I think it was also very hard to live that life. I struggle to think if I would also have turned out the same way if I had lived that life. Honestly, I would probably be an asshole, too.
Let’s move on. I have too many mixed feelings on Jordan and I would rather not continue to dig into them. Let’s talk about Meghan Markle. I would argue she’s still not out from under the cloud of judgement. People HATE her. I was recently in a conversation with someone and I was talking about her experience after reading Prince Harry’s book, and the person I was talking to was casually dropping, in my opinion, racially charged and very tired talking points about her. She WANTED to be a princess. She WANTS the fame and attention. She doesn’t DESERVE our sympathy because she CHOSE to marry Prince Harry. I’m sorry but why do we think this? Because the tabloids told us to? She deserves racist attacks because she fell in love with this red head who is part of an outdated institution? It would be different if she actually did anything shady. But she didn’t. She made a docu-series to tell her side of the story. Wow, she gave us content? Burn her at the stake! Also, a reminder: she was already on television before she married Harry. I said this before and I’ll say it again: she just took a quick shortcut from basic cable television fame to world wide stardom by suffering emotional abuse from the Royal family. She is now choosing to profit off her trauma. And that is her right. After watching their docu-series I came to the conclusion that she is deeply inoffensive. She just exists in that basic live, love, laugh wooden sign-dom. If that deserves this much vitriol, then turn that shit onto white, wine loving, moms as well.
Let me once again move on, because people really don’t like when I defend Meghan Markle. I’ll see you guys in ten years when you finally realize how unnecessarily cruel the world is being towards her.
Okay, a few quick hits before I move on to who I really want to talk to about. First, we all know Britney Spears deserved more. We have discussed this non-stop. (Shoutout to Tess Barker and Babs Gray who came into our iHeart offices very early on and told us that something was up with Britney and it should be investigated. This was just off the strength of them observing her Instagram for the podcast they were doing at the time. I’m not exactly sure why that podcast never happened at our network but they were on the case before anyone I knew.) I would like to argue, though, that we do need to respect Britney’s space now. We shouldn’t be calling the police to her home because she disabled her Instagram. I think she’s gone through enough. And while the fans do want the best for her, I think we have to respect her word when she says she is doing okay and living her life. All that media speculation and obsession is what got her in that conservation in the first place. Let her dance and post pictures of roses in peace!
I shall say no more about Britney and just respect that she married a Persian man. MashAllah.
As for Monica Lewinsky, she also deserved so much more. She was groomed, she was manipulated, and she was discarded like trash. Her life was ruined and she became a punchline. I can’t end this without saying: fuck Bill Clinton! Seriously, fuck that creep.
Moving on, moving on, moving on!
Dennis Rodman. In my opinion, a true icon. A rebounding legend! Breaking barriers and looking good while doing it. I am very defensive (probably because Rodman was so good at defense - ha!) when people try and bash Dennis Rodman. I don’t think he deserves it. He played a strong game on a legendary team. And he lived his damn life in the process. I remember, when I was young, people would call him crazy. I was always drawn to him, though. I was so fascinated by his choice to dye his hair different colors. I always wanted to do that but was told no. I would say but Dennis Rodman dyes his hair! My parents would look at me like I was out of my mind. Why would I want to be like Dennis Rodman? Well, because he seemed free and I, the child of Persian immigrants, always wanted to be free. I remember this feeling from my youth so clearly. My love of Dennis Rodman stands to this day. I truly believe the style shots you see of players today wouldn’t be what they are without someone like Dennis Rodman paving the way. Even the more out there outfits of Kyle Kuzma owe their acceptance to Rodman. A Black man wearing a wedding dress to a book signing? He’s a trailblazer, period.
Okay, okay, okay, we have finally made it to the one person I truly felt was misunderstood from day one: Pamela Anderson. I recently finished her memoir and companion documentary and I must say I am blown away. I definitely have a few qualms about how some stuff in her life is portrayed but I will get to that later. For the most part, I was saddened that I didn’t understand who she was sooner. I didn’t know much about her when I was growing up. I didn’t watch Baywatch. I barely remember her on Home Improvement. I just thought she was how the media portrayed her to be. A hot lady who posed in Playboy and had shitty husbands and big boobs. Of course, she is more than that.
She’s a poet who writes in broken and yet interesting prose, she loves to read Joseph Campbell, she has full Shakespearian sonnets memorized and can recite them in a moments notice. On top of all these intriguing facts about her, I feel like she could be my friend. She’s sounds so easy to be around and, above all else, she is kind. She loves love and loves to get married and experience romance. She loves animals and nature and has done a lot with her fame to help where we can. She comes from a traumatic and rocky childhood that wouldn’t usually allow for such unforgiving love but her soul seems to emanate joy and respect for the earth around her. To put it simply, she is just lovely. It caught me off guard but I really enjoy her as a person. She’s a light and she doesn’t let the darkness from her life dictate anything. She was someone who was betrayed by the world. Her home video was released to the world without her permission and viewed as a sex tape for people to distribute and purchase. She never made a cent off of that tape. She chose to walk away from the privacy lawsuit she had going because the stress was bad for her pregnancy. She wasn’t willing to hurt her unborn child to prove a point. It ruined her career and once again, was now another woman who became a punchline to us. She chose to move on with her life and we, as a society, chose to continue asking her about her boobs.
The things I struggle with in her story include the following: she romanticizes an abusive relationship. She describes some very dark times with Tommy Lee and continues to call him the love of her life. She also describes her parents relationship as true love. Her parents are still together but her father was a very abusive man who her mother left many times but always ended up back with him. I feel like there is a theme here even though she didn’t end up staying with Tommy after he physically attacked her. She also describes a brief marriage to Rick Salomon, the man who made a sex tape with Paris Hilton. He claimed it was released without his knowledge but then did go on to sell the tape himself. I can’t really wrap my mind around why she would be with someone, who did to another woman, something that devastated her own life so deeply. She did leave him after finding a crack pipe in their Christmas tree. Well, that’s something.
The book does end with her being single though, finally. She is living the life she always wanted, free and unbothered. She wants nothing to do with the television show about her life and says she will never watch it or ever truly know who stole the video of her and Tommy. She doesn’t care to know. She chooses to live her life instead of dwelling on the pain of her past. It’s a nice ending. She gets to have the final word. I’m not mad at it.
And with that. I am done. I’ll get off my soapbox.
God bless and goodnight.