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Redwood Bark

FDA approves Opill; The lens into the world of reproductive rights
Hailey Carlton and Annie BurlingameMay 16, 2024

From IUDs to Depo-Provera shots, and to the original pill (Plan-B), birth control has evolved substantially since its debut in May of 1950....

Photo Essay: Students celebrate the fifth annual Wellness Festival
Photo Essay: Students celebrate the fifth annual Wellness Festival
Lauren OlsenMay 12, 2024

  On Saturday, May 11, the Marin County Youth Commision (MCYC) hosted their fifth annual Wellness Festival for middle school and...

The Giants won their first MCAL banner since 2018.
Back at the top: Boys’ varsity baseball knocks off San Marin to claim MCAL banner
Gil Ladetzky and Hayden DonehowerMay 11, 2024

As the boys’ varsity baseball team entered the 2024 Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) championship game against San Marin, the bitter...

The new normal: Why parasocial relationships thrive in the age of social media

Society is paving its way through an age filled with high-performing technology, making the act of communicating and viewing the lives of others all the more attainable. Technology continues to construct the way we connect with each other and consume content, transforming and increasing our access to the lives of the rich and famous. According to the October Bark survey, 74 percent of Redwood students said they have a favorite celebrity, showing the hold celebrities have on the younger generation. The rise of the digital age and mass media consumption has strengthened the parasocial relationship between fans (both devoted and critical) and celebrities. A parasocial relationship is defined as “a one-sided relationship formed when one party extends energy, interest and time and the other person doesn’t know they exist,” according to the National Register of Health Services Psychologists. It is time for individuals to understand that although your favorite celebrity makes amazing movies, is kind to fans in person and online and seems to be born for the spotlight, they don’t owe you anything at all.

Illustration by Lauren Olsen

While faceless accounts online play a role in tracking celebrities, the people shouting and running around with cameras, desperate to get the perfect shot, exacerbate celebrities’ lack of privacy. “How are paparazzi even legal?” seems to be a common question asked amongst the general public. Despite being an essential part of Hollywood Public Relations and used by many celebrities as a tool to gain public attention, their negative contributions to celebrity stress and anxiety far outweigh the positives. Stalking laws don’t apply to paparazzi, as there is no intent on their part to harm celebrities, nor do they show a lack of sanity required by stalking laws like California’s law which prohibits paparazzi from trespassing on private property. Unfortunately, that is the extent of their punishable offenses even with the constant photos, harassment and extreme physical presence. 

In a Larry King special, Actor Johnny Depp shared his own views on the paparazzi. 

I’ll take photographs with kids… [who were] People who supported me. I’ll do that all day, all night, that’s fine. But the bombardment of the paparazzi is just… I truly don’t understand. It just feels like this kind of gluttonous, horrific sport. It’s like sport.” 

This invasion of personal privacy by the paparazzi gives the public a deeper view of the lives of celebrities. This elevates the public entitlement, spinning the notion that they are owed this form of access. ​​The invasive nature of paparazzi tactics not only breaches the boundaries of personal privacy but also amplifies the intensity of public interest and scrutiny surrounding celebrity relationships as it allows the internet to dissect every public moment.

“It” girl finally meets her “it” boy. Makeup guru and reality show star Kylie Jenner and actor (and heartthrob) Timothee Chalamet. A celebrity romance was bound to happen when observing the scope of influence and fans both parties have racked up. With a net worth of $750 million and 400 million Instagram followers, Jenner shares most aspects of her life with the public, from her family, to her purchases to her makeup empire. Her online presence cultivates an aura around her that is mimicked but impenetrable. Chalamet has a smaller net worth and fewer online followers than Jenner, but his presence in Hollywood and higher society is still extremely powerful. 

Rumors of their alleged romance were publicized when they were spotted together at a Beyoncé concert in Los Angeles. Their fans and haters alike made their opinions on the romance known. One Chalamet fan account run by Simone Cromer, a 57-year-old woman known as @Clubchalamet, posted her reaction to a video of the new couple kissing, saying, “If you’re feeling distressed by the video, it’s okay. But please take care of yourself. Step away from social media for a couple of days.” Despite not knowing Chalement personally, @Clubchalamet seems to have a deep emotional connection with him. Examples like this show the powerful emotions certain fans have as the relationship status of their favorite celebrities can evoke physical and mental stress.

Fans invest significant emotional energy into their favorite celebrities. When those stars appear to be romantically involved with someone else, it can stir feelings of jealousy and betrayal among their devoted followers. This reaction is a clear manifestation of the parasocial relationship dynamic, where fans feel a deep connection to celebrities despite the celebrities having no reciprocal knowledge or personal connection with their fans.

Even though you follow them on social media and watch all of their shows and movies, both Jenner and Chalamet don’t owe the public any explanation or details about their relationship because at the end of the day, it’s their life.  

Obsessive fans trying to claim their favorite celebrity as their own is not normal nor is it healthy.  Joanne Ingram, the co-author of a study into social media’s influence on parasocial relationships spoke about the unhealthy aspects of parasocial relationships. 

“People can feel closer than ever before to those they don’t actually know, celebrity engagement with social media may allow people to believe that their feelings are reciprocated, or that celebrities are aware of them in a way that traditional media did not,” Ingram said. The sensation of parasocial relationships between fans and celebrities is on the rise, accentuated by social media. While the online community may welcome fandoms and stan culture, it is important to put your phone down and remember that you don’t know these people and they are just as deserving of privacy and your respect.

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About the Contributor
Gabriella Rouas
Gabriella Rouas, Data Analyst
Gabriella Rouas is a senior at Redwood High School and is a data analyst for the Redwood Bark. Gabriella likes to spend her time reading books, exploring new places around the Bay Area and watching new movies!