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So Listen: Parasocial relationships are weird

The cultural obsession with celebrities is ingrained in American culture. From the Kardashian’s, to the Royal Family, to TikTok stars, there is constantly some sort of drama happening in the lives of famous people for us regulars to follow along with. While following along is fun and entertaining, sometimes fans can cross a line when it comes to these very personal matters of people with very public lives.

A celebrity that has recently come under fire due to not living up to the expectations that preceded him set by his fans is comedian John Mulaney. John Mulaney is an incredibly popular comic amongst young women, as his jokes are typically in support of women instead of in spite of them like we see from most male comedians. This has given him a reputation as a “good guy.” The type of guy who would walk you home safely from a bar. The type of guy who would be your shoulder to cry on through a breakup. The type of guy who would be a good and trustful boyfriend. 

The problem with this assumption, is that is not who John Mulaney has proven himself to be. After a relapse and a trip to rehab, it was announced to the public that Mulaney and his wife of six years, Anna Marie Tendler, were getting a divorce. This seemed to come out of nowhere, as in a lot of his stand-up material he talks about how much he loves his wife, but some fans were understanding as addiction and relapse can uncover issues for those struggling with it. What came next though, is what sent his fanbase into a fury.

Not long after his divorce, rumors spread that Mulaney was already in a relationship with actress Olivia Munn. Pretty soon after the rumors were confirmed, it was also confirmed that Munn is pregnant with Mulaney. 

This has upset his whole fanbase. What happened to the nice guy John Mulaney who loves his wife? There has been much speculation that he was cheating on his wife, which seems incredibly out of character to his fans based on what they know about him. 

The issue with this situation and with all parasocial relationships is that regular people develop emotional connections with celebrities based on what the celebrities allow us to see and know about them. We see Mulaney on stage and in interviews, but we never see him in private. The same can be said for all celebrities. 

We base how we feel about famous people not on reality, but on our perception of them that is entirely based on what these celebrities allow us to know. Our culture is deeply fascinated with celebrities and trying to know every ounce of their business. When they do something that we don’t expect, we are let down and disappointed by people we have never even held a conversation with, let alone have met.

It’s fun to follow celebrity gossip, but it can become problematic for individuals when they extend so much emotional energy towards these people then obsess over the outcome. Just because someone puts their life story out there for entertainment purposes and we feel connected to their life story doesn’t make what they say trustworthy. Celebrities are just people with fame, and putting them on a pedestal and feeling let down when they mess up is not only unhealthy, but it’s pretty weird. 

Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.

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