Let's stop idoloizing celebrities

Courtesy of Interscope Records.

After both Adam Levine and Ned Fulmer were caught cheating on their wives in the past month, many say we should stop idolizing the “wife guy.” Instead, we should stop idolizing celebrities altogether. 


In pop culture, a “wife guy” is a man who admires his wife and seems fully in love with her. Celebrity wife guys often dedicate much of their public personas to talking about their wives and how much they love them. 


The term became popular with the success of comedian John Mulaney, who based many parts of his stand-up routines around how much he adored his wife, even some of her traits men historically may find not so endearing, such as her strong personality. 


This was a breath of fresh air from the typical “ball and chain” jokes, which only grew Mulaney’s popularity. When the two announced their separation in spring of 2021 and Mulaney had a baby with Olivia Munn shortly after, fans were shocked and disillusioned. 


More recently, Fulmer was fired from the Try Guys, a popular YouTube channel that got its start on Buzzfeed, after he was caught having an affair with an employee. What made this so shocking was that he was known as the guy that talked about his wife and kids all the time. Furthermore, he heavily monetized his seemingly perfect relationship. He and his wife traveled to college campuses to give talks about healthy relationships, they published a cookbook together and many of his videos feature her. 


It may seem like an overreaction that so many people have such a strong emotional response to a stranger cheating on his wife. However, parasocial relationships are nearly impossible to avoid in today’s time, when we spend so much time consuming online content. When we watch media personalities over and over again, it’s completely natural that we form attachments to them and their relationships. 


That’s not necessarily a bad thing – parasocial relationships are perfectly healthy as long as they don’t overtake real-life relationships. In fact, we can’t help it; our brains have a hard time distinguishing between familiar faces we know in real life and familiar faces we’ve seen in the media.  


What’s important to remember is that celebrities are first and foremost a brand. We see the parts of them that they want us to see, and if they want to be seen as a progressive man who has a healthy, loving relationship with his wife, that’s what we’re going to see (if they have a good PR team). 


It’s especially easy to forget this on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, where influencers seem more authentic than the traditional Hollywood celebrity. But this just means they can share even more manufactured shots of their lives rather than just what we would see on talk shows and paparazzi photos. 


It’s completely fine to like media personalities and try to emulate them sometimes. Just remember this from a PR major – celebrities are simply commodified personalities curated for our consumption via clicks and likes.


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