Opinion Web Exclusive

Society should not give celebrities a pass just because they are famous

The modern world is obsessed with the lives of celebrities, especially when their actions are controversial.

Generally, a celebrity makes a public mistake, half-heartedly apologizes and all is supposedly well. It becomes a social media joke, and the celebrity faces little backlash or vilification.

James Franco epitomized this phenomenon when he made headlines after pursuing an underage girl on Instagram on April 2, according to the New York Daily News.

Franco, 35, messaged a 17-year-old girl several times on Instagram before asking for her phone number. He wanted to know when she would be 18.

Screenshots of this exchange were posted online originally to Imgur, yet no one seemed to find it appalling.

When James Franco spoke publicly about the Instagram incident, the mainstream media attributed the problem to social media. Even Franco himself blamed social media sites rather than taking direct responsibility for his actions.

“I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky,” Franco said on “Live with Kelly and Michael.”

Yes, because social media “tricked” him into pursuing an underage girl in an attempt to lure her to his hotel room. Surely Instagram held him at gunpoint.

Franco isn’t an idiot — he should know by now that nothing on the Internet is private.

“It’s a way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned — I guess because I’m new to it. You don’t know who’s on the other end,” Franco said. “You get a feel for them, you don’t know who you’re talking to. I used bad judgment, and I learned my lesson.”

I question how genuine Franco’s statements were. In other cases, pursuing a minor in such a way is a big deal, and it is treated as such — unless you’re a movie star, of course.

Regardless of a weak apology, James Franco, who was fully aware of the girl’s age, intended to meet with her. It astonishes me that no one seems to care how illegal and repulsive that is.

Society places celebrities above the law by glorifying their behavior and turning it into a joke. They are often placed on a pedestal and viewed as higher beings that are incapable of being flawed.

In the case of Justin Bieber’s recent DUI allegations, the media seemed to ignore the dangers of drunk driving and instead focused on how Bieber’s career was affected. His fans even supported his actions.

Mainstream media also glorifies drug abuse by turning a person’s struggles into a joke. Lindsay Lohan has been a repeated target of this for years after countless DUI charges and stints in rehab.

Every media source criticized Lohan and talked about how she turned into a disaster, but not one argued for her condition to be taken seriously. Now she has her own reality show, through which the media can continue to make fun of her in order to have a story.

James Franco is only one of the many examples of society praising misbehavior and using it as a method of creating humorous stories.

Society needs an attitude change. It is essential that celebrities be given the same treatment as any other member of society.

Famous people are often viewed as role models, and younger people base their actions on what they see their idols do. If a celebrity misbehaves, younger people need to see the consequences.

The media affects the development of young minds and how they perceive the world. When wrongdoing is glorified, it instills the idea that bad behavior is acceptable and isn’t reprimanded.

Not everyone gets a reality show when they do something wrong.

Opinion columnist Amber Hewitt is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]


  • 1. Was Franco a total idiot for pursing a 17 years, Yes!
    2. James Franco, who was fully aware of the girl’s age, intended to meet with her.
    It astonishes me that no one seems to care how illegal and repulsive that is.

  • Repulsive and creepy, yes. Illegal, no. The age of consent in New York is 17. The age of consent in Scotland, where the girl is from, is 16.

    • In my country we have child brides. It is a normal thing that only an intolerant bigot would be against. Get educated and see the world. You are not an islamophobe are you?

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