Why do we idolise celebrity relationships? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Why do we idolise celebrity relationships?

Life&Style's Gabrielle Taylor-Dowson looks into why so many of us become obsessed with celebrities and their relationships

Another day, another tabloid, and another celebrity breakup. The latest celebrity power-couple to take a hit are Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, who announced their split after nine years of marriage. In the celeb-o-sphere, nine years is the equivalent of twenty. It feels like we’ve been watching them be together forever with everything from their wedding, to holidays to Italy, to the all-important first red-carpet appearance documented in magazines. The positive aspects of their relationship, the together-years, are met with floods of support - comments on Instagram and replies to tweets and interviews dubbing them #relationshipgoals

The latest celebrity power-couple to take a hit are Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, who announced their split after nine years of marriage

This hashtag summarises the idolisation we have for celebrity couples. Celebrity relationships like Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan are seen by some people as the standard for which everyone should be aiming in their own relationships. Glamour magazine has an article titled ‘20 couples that give us major #relationshipgoals,’ but as of this point in time at least three of these couples have either broken up or divorced. That isn’t a bad thing - that’s just life. Every day thousands of people fall in and out of love, they grow apart… the list goes on. We know, really, that celebrity couples are no different to the couples you know and even the ones you don’t, the strangers you see on the street. We’re all human. But why are relationships between celebrities held in such high regard? Why, as the Glamour article puts it, do they seemingly ‘restore our faith in lurve’?

The most obvious reason is that we feel like we know them. We know their names, have followed the timeline of their relationship, seen them in their movies and what they choose to share online. Most of us have watched or know of the Step Up films where Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan met; to know that that’s where the romance started, to have what feels like insider knowledge, gives people the feeling that they’re a part of the couple’s journey. We know how it started, watched how it progressed, and have now watched it end, too. When a celebrity couple ends, social-media platforms are flooded with the same sentiments; that Love is dead and I will never ship another couple again!

When a celebrity couple ends, social-media platforms are flooded with the same sentiments; that Love is dead and I will never ship another couple again!

A lot of people are intensely attached to these celebrities and what appears to be a perfect relationship.  We admire their relationship, how they express their love to one another. There is a psychological effect called the halo effect which, in crude terms, means we assume that because people are good at doing A they will be good at doing B, C and D (or the reverse—because they are bad at doing A they will be bad at doing B, and so on). Perhaps, seeing as how Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan are (or were) apparently such good partners - with the image being that they are committed, supportive and romantic - we imagine them to be as good in other aspects of their life. That they are also a good friend, a good parent, etc… And when the image of them as a perfect couple and also as great individuals is broken we get a little annoyed or disappointed.

According to celebrity relationship therapist Audrey Hope, people’s tendency to idolise celebrities (and, by extension, their relationships) is so natural, we shouldn't even think about it as a problem. She says "It is so common to get obsessed with and wrapped up into a celebrity's life because they represent a fantasy of what we would like to have.” It is not bad to have something to look up to, to admire a loving relationship like the one Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan seemed to have and to want that for ourselves. If we find a healthy love in a Hollywood couple we want to reciprocate, that’s totally fine. But love that is worthy of being admired isn’t a Hollywood anomaly - it’s in and between a lot of people we know, too.



Published

28th April 2018 at 4:00 pm



Images from

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