Posters of celebrity icons are being torn off bedroom walls at alarming rates. Here's how to prepare for when it happens to you. (Illustration by Kira Widjaja, Rhode Island School of Design)
Thoughts x

A helpful drill to prepare you for when the day comes. And the day will come.

So, it’s happened. You woke up to find one of your favorite celebrities trending online — but not for anything good. This is the moment you’ve been dreading since society decided sexual harassment awareness should become a household conversation. It’s tough. When one of your favorite actors/musicians/writers/etc. is exposed for sexual harassment, it can be a confusing and emotionally harrowing time. I sympathize with your plight.

It doesn’t help that the internet is a minefield and if you don’t tread carefully, there are bound to be explosions. If you can’t shout your opinion into the depths of social media without receiving backlash, how are you supposed to cope?

Luckily, there are ways to avoid coming off as insensitive or ignorant when coming to terms with the harsh reality of your idol. Here are four tips for navigating the tempestuous waters of your favorite celebrity’s scandal.

1. Do not engage online.

I know there is a tiny internet devil perched on your shoulder, persuading you that it’s necessary — nay, helpful! — to insert your opinion in online discussions. Well, allow me to be your internet angel and emphasize that, while it might seem like an arduous feat, it is in fact possible to read something you disagree with and move on without starting an argument.

I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t have and share your opinions, but confronting a group of emotional keyboard warriors is, likely, inconducive to a productive conversation. Instead, try talking about the situation with people you know in real life, face to face. Someone who understands what the accused celebrity’s work means to you, who will listen even if they disagree and who will work through what you’re feeling with you.

2. Process what your idol’s work means to you in a new context.

Some will be quick to discredit any art produced by a sex offender, which is a valid response. You can’t blame a person for revoking their support, but that doesn’t mean you need to disavow work that has helped you through tough times.

Thinking for yourself can be exhausting, especially when everyone and their chinchilla is happy to shove their thoughts into your brain, but nobody can set your boundaries for you. You are responsible for deciding how much support you’re willing to give this celebrity now, how their work fits into your life now and how you’re going to discuss their work going forward. Somebody somewhere is going to disagree with you no matter which route you choose to take, so you might as well walk the path that makes you feel emotionally and morally satisfied.

3. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you need to feel.

As someone who firmly believes emotions are nothing but bloodthirsty hellhounds set on destroying humanity, I understand the instinct to stifle all the complicated feelings swirling in that complicated brain of yours. Especially when, once again, other people are trying to dictate the “correct” response to a complex issue (hello, this article). But it’s okay to feel disgusted or upset or betrayed or even indifferent.

When a celebrity who has made a positive impact on your life turns out to be a reprehensible human being, it can raise questions about yourself and the world around you, and the only way to get answers is to explore the dark cave where your feelings live.

4. Remember, you’re not the only victim.

Yeah, you’re hurt. I’m not invalidating that, but keep in mind that there are people whose bodies, safety and mental well-being were violated. Feel what you need to, but, you know, feel it with perspective.

Also, the conversation surrounding celebrity sexual harassment scandals contains certain nuances that do not warrant your input. People have been genuinely hurt by your idol’s actions, and it’s not your place to determine whether a celebrity really did what they’re being accused of or whether others are reacting appropriately. Plenty of people will be trying to take the wheel on appointing the “truth,” and there’s no need for you to be one of them. Nobody can stop you from having those thoughts, but you can stop yourself from vocalizing them. Unless you have experience with sexual assault, this is not your lane.

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