Alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, child molesters, drug addicts… These people are often called deviants or those whose behavior goes against the standards of conduct of a society. In the United States many celebrities have distinctive lifestyles which lead to criminal activity, however celebrity behavior is often overlooked because, well, they’re celebrities. Their crimes are perceived very differently from the same acts committed by their non famous counterparts. Celebrities with drug problems are just as prone to the short and long-term effects of substance abuse as other drug addicts. Let’s have a look at some of the most famous celebrities and their significant behavior:
A successful actress at a young age, Lohan began to involve herself with the partying lifestyle as she grew older. She has been charged numerous times with drunk driving as well as with cocaine possession. Usually the penalty for any possession is jail time, if not extended probation community service, but a repeat offender could face a harsher sentence. Lohan on the other hand received nothing more than 1 day in prison and ten days community service. It was later stated that she served eighty four minutes.
Jackson was charged with seven counts of sexual assault in 2003 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to a minor. These allegations rose in response to Michael Jackson’s sleepovers where he invited minors to his home to spend the night in which they shared beds. Unlike with Lohan, it was not exactly clear whether Jackson was guilty or not. However it was clear that the perception of the issue was skewed due to a celebrity status. Fans with literally no tie to the celebrity apart from being a fan were fervently defending his innocence.
Mel Gibson is a very known actor, but he is also known for his anti-semitic tirade in 2006 and his more recent scandal involving his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. In 2006, while driving under the influence of alcohol, the actor was pulled over by the LA County Sheriffs and while being questioned he started using religious epithets towards the officers. Gibson was arrested and after a short period sentenced to three years probation. On March 2011, he pleaded guilty on a charge of misdemeanor battery against Grigorieva and avoided jail in exchange of 36 months of probation, community service, a year of domestic violence counseling and $570 in fines. The reactions varied, some people still liked him and some hated his guts.
When you start comparing celebrity meltdowns not one stands out more than Charlie Sheen‘s. The star made derogatory remarks about Chuck Lorre, the creator of the ‘Two and a Half Men’ series and was removed from the cast. After that, Sheen resumed the seemingly fun and almost dangerous roller coaster ride that has been his life by going on a tour around the country and attacking the media, his bosses and ex-wife with his twitter account or on his live stream rantings.
What parts of our thinking process justify these celebrities’ behavior? Do we feel an obligation for them? Do we enjoy their work so much that we are willing to look the other way? Or do we just not care?
Sociological theory states according to the functional perspective that deviance is an important part of society because our reactions to such behavior enforces behavioral norms. For example, someone talking during a movie will be asked to be quiet but what happens when a certain group of people, in our case celebrities, do not experience this. It is a two-way problem that tells them that they can act that way and that tells us that it is acceptable for them to do so.
This problem may not have an immediate solution as long as the crime committed by celebrities are victimless, such as Lohan’s; it is in many people’s better interest to let these celebrities go. A lot is invested in these people and as long as there is no victim authorities have an easier time turning a blind eye. We can only hope that this behavioral trend doesn’t stay around too much.
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