Why does society give a pass to celebrities? Why do we shrug and excuse the behaviour of people because they have achieved a certain level of fame? Consider Drake for example. The 31-year-old Canadian artist is allegedly in a relationship with 18-year-old model Bella Harris. As well as this, “Stranger Things” actress Millie Bobby Brown, aged 14, revealed that Drake had been giving her relationship advice. Neither of these things are illegal, of course, but when context is factored in, the situation seems totally at odds to the time and society that we’re living in.
“Celebrity dates model/singer” isn’t a headline that would make anybody stop and pause. What about “31-year-old dates 18-year-old school leaver”? That framing feels different, but it shouldn’t. Drake’s alleged penchant for dating teenagers makes me queasy and not just because of the age gap; there’s also a power imbalance. Bella Harris is a model. Drake is one of the most famous artists on the planet. Being associated with him can launch a career. That imbalance is problematic.
It is undeniable that we accept things that happen in celebrity culture that we don’t in our own society. Having a hit track shouldn’t exempt you from scrutiny when your behaviour is questionable. It is that kind of exemption that creates a disconnect between behaviour that we expect in everyday life and the kind of behaviour we tolerate from celebrities.
When we turn a blind eye to aberrant behaviours, or worse, excuse them because a person is famous, we unwittingly become apologists for a whole range of questionable actions. Drake is able to date anyone he wants who is of age, and there is no law about texting relationship advice to young girls. But equally, there is nothing wrong with asking questions where there is genuine doubt. In fact, when it comes to celebrities, history would suggest that we have a moral imperative to ask.
Image: Drew, The Come Up Show