Celebrities are different than the rest of us “normal people,” in pretty much any way you want to define the word different. They’re prettier or more handsome. They have more money. They get more attention. They live in nicer places, drive nicer cars. Etcetera.
Because of that, I wonder if we sometimes subconsciously suspect that they react to pain and heartbreak differently, too, especially when it comes to their relationships. After all, everyone “knows” most marriages don’t last long in Hollywood, right? Easy come, easy go, right? It’s no big deal to them.
Perhaps that’s sometimes true. But in at least some of those cases, the heartbreak, disappointment and shame these folks feel sounds a lot like how the rest of us “normal” people would react.
Take Drew Barrymore, for instance. During a recent interview with Netflix talk show host Chelsea Handler, Barrymore opened up about her recent divorce from Will Kopelman. The 41-year-old actress and mother of two clarified her press statement about the split, which read, “Divorce might make one feel like a failure, but eventually you start to find grace in the idea that life goes on.”
That sounds pretty sunny, but it also sounds as if the “failure” part of the process has been a painful one for Barrymore. And she admitted as much to Handler. “When you break up with somebody, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that didn’t work,’ [but] when you get divorced, you’re like, ‘I’m the biggest failure,” she told Handler. “This is the biggest failure. It’s so shameful and hard to actually go through that, even privately.”
I appreciate Barrymore’s candor, because it’s in stark contrast to the glossy, “perfect” way that the media frequently paints the lives of the rich and the famous. We know that the façade is not true, of course. But their dazzling white smiles, impossibly trim figures and stunningly beautiful visages nevertheless pound us with the idea that these folks never wrestle with the kind of emotional wounds, insecurities and regrets that we do. But they do.
I have to confess that sometimes my knee-jerk response to celebs’ struggles can fall somewhere between smug and self-righteous. It’s easy, after all, to stand in judgment of a group of people whose worldview (as represented by the entertainment industry they participate in) is often radically at odds with the biblical perspective we strive to hold on to.
But that’s a judgmental response I’d do well to confess and repent of. The Gospel compels us to be people of grace and compassion (even in the tension of holding to truths that are culturally uncomfortable), to remember that our fellow sojourners and pilgrims on this earth are all struggling to figure it out, too.
And as I ask God to cultivate in me that kind of heart of compassion—even if it’s just in my reflexive response to a celeb’s face on a tabloid at the checkout counter—I hope that’s a habit that will spill over into the way I treat all those other “normal” people that I relate to every day.