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Exploring the Language of the Stars

Three Shades of Celebrity Desire

Three Shades of Celebrity Desire
Credit: Josué Canals

By the time these words are committed to the internet, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez will have been broken up for over three weeks, a week longer than they were together after their original breakup last Thanksgiving, aka the worst month of my life, aka the Merciless Pit of Despair, the same pit in which we now find ourselves deposited again, and from which escape seems increasingly unlikely. This pit of despair is now our home. We live here.

It was nice, for a while, imagining that love is real. Remember when we knew they were together but they were playing coy? Selena telling Ellen that Justin was like a little brother. (Yeah, a SEXY little brother.) Remember when they almost kissed in that “Call Me Maybe” fan vid? Ugh, dying just thinking about it. This was media-driven desire. This is how you create demand. We didn’t know we wanted them to be together until they gave us the possibility that they might not be together. Very smart career move, to not just fall in love and get together immediately. Note to self, in case I ever meet Amy Poehler.

Compare to our other recent two-time break-uppers, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. We had no investment in them. Who even cared that they were dating in the first place? Who even cared about their story? Yeah, we met as a couple of no-names moping around the set of a movie where vampires play baseball. Awesome? My parents met on a blind date at an aquarium. They’re not celebrities but at least they were attempting to create an interesting mythology around their relationship. Anyway they divorced as soon as I moved out, I don’t want to talk about it.

The people who liked Kristen for her anti-Hollywood/hood-rat vibe were like, Ugh what is she doing with Johnny British. The prepubescent legion of Pattinson’s fans thought, She’s so NORMAL, why doesn’t he date me instead, I’m SUPER normal. Their relationship was two Barbie dolls being mashed together by a child.

With Jelena, it was like two impossibly perfect creatures finding each other, against all odds, in the deadly forest of life, because how else could their story turn out?

Compare again to the whatever-their-relationship-is of Chris Brown and Rihanna, who are long overdue for breakup No. 2. They are as cuddly and relatable as a bag of knives. Their relationship was forged in the fiery pits of Mordor.

Why don’t we get to vote, is my point. I don’t want to live in a world where Chris and RiRi are a thing and Jelena isn’t. We get to determine every other aspect of celebrity lives. We decide how big their movies open, how many albums they sell. We decide their value to society, yet we don’t have a voice when it comes to saving them from their irrational love-related decisions. What is that? Who OK’d that?

Of course ultimately, it’s fine. Justin and Selena are young (ageless, even) and maybe they should be seeing what else is out there, even though there is NOTHING else as good and they could search their whole lives and never again find what they had together. But this breakup will provide an interesting hitch in the long arc of their relationship. We get more invested in the characters of a story when adversity strikes. Imagine them getting back together after a few news cycles spent stalking the relationship wilderness. That will be a story that sells covers. That will be an event that rekindles our faith in love.

In the meantime, keep beliebing.