Celebrities and Societal Expectations: Is the Pedestal Too High?

By Kenzie Smith, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Many musicians have transcended into otherworldly fame, but with this fame comes a set of standards that some may consider to be excessive. Others may view it as not excessive enough. People put on these pedestals are expected to act a certain way, but what are the consequences when they don’t meet these expectations?

When discussing idolized artists, one musician that cannot be overlooked is Taylor Swift. As of Nov. 8, 2023, Swift had 275 million followers on Instagram and 106.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify. This fame comes with its perks, such as breaking the record for hosting the highest-attended concert by a female artist, which was previously held by Madonna. However, even Swift can’t escape criticism. 

In the past year, videos of Swift’s fans praising the artist and her Eras Tour have been circulating the social media platform TikTok, but videos condemning Swift have also started to gain traction. While some of these videos attack Swift on multiple fronts, the main factor that united this upstream was Swift’s carbon emissions.

In a 2022 study completed by Yard, Swift was crowned as the highest celebrity CO2 emitter with 8,293.54 tonnes emitted from her private jet from Jan. 2022 to July 2022. Swift’s team released a statement that all these emissions could not be attributed to Swift as she loans out her jet, but this shifting of blame did not settle well with the public. 

In the comment section of a BuzzFeed article which posted Swift’s team’s statement, people still contributed these emissions to Swift as it was her plane: “She loaned out HER jet. It’s hers lol she is responsible,” one commenter said. This statement also did nothing to slow the flurry of TikTok videos criticizing Swift for her contribution to CO2 emissions. 

Even with this information spreading, Swift still received mass support from fans, with approximately 72,000 people attending each concert of the U.S. leg of the Eras Tour. Many of these fans have spent large amounts on tickets, flights and outfits. It is evident that Swift has been put on a pedestal, but what standards apply to her?

Many Swift fans are Gen Z, a generation that has a substantial amount of people concerned about the effects of climate change. Does the concern for the impact of CO2 emissions fall flat when being produced by a celebrity? Does the emotional fulfillment from seeing Swift in person outweigh other concerns?

Taylor Swift is a celebrity that is highly idolized and perhaps forgiven for her misdeeds, such as her carbon footprint. Other celebrities, however, have found themselves receiving mass criticism from fans for not meeting expected standards of conduct. One such artist is Doja Cat.

Earlier this year on the social media app Threads, one of Doja’s fans asked her to say that she loved her fans. Doja refused to do so, stating, “I don’t though cuz I don’t even know y’all.” In response to another fan arguing back that they have supported her “through thick and thin” without knowing her, Doja stated, “nobody forced you…” 

In response to these posts, Doja lost half a million followers on Instagram and many of her top fan accounts were deactivated. As of Nov. 8, 2023, Doja had 24.4 million followers on Instagram and 70.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Doja is currently on The Scarlet Tour and remains unfazed by the criticism, posting on her Instagram story on Aug. 16 to say, “Seeing all these people unfollow makes me feel like I’ve defeated a large beast that’s been holding me down for so long and it feels like I can reconnect with the people who really matter and love me for who I am and not for who I was. I feel free.”

Both Swift and Doja have come into recent criticism for not meeting the standards expected of them from different audiences. Most of the disapproval toward Swift appears to have come from outside of her fan base, while Doja has been receiving push back from her own fans. This feature may correlate with the matter of their transgressions. Perhaps fans are more likely to forgive infractions that do not target them specifically, so Swift’s more wide-scale problem of CO2 emissions becomes a looked-over issue, while Doja, who has directly offended her fans, is unable to achieve this same escape. This gray area in celebrity standards welcomes questions about society, their values and who can get away with what.

This article originally appeared on page 14 of the December 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

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Author: Kenzie Smith

Kenzie Smith ’26 is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for The Gettysburgian. Previously, she served as a Staff Writer for the News and Arts & Entertainment sections. Kenzie is an English with a writing concentration major and Environmental Studies minor originally hailing from Everett, PA. Outside The Gettysburgian, Kenzie is a tour guide for the Admissions Office, a writing tutor for the Writing Center, and a contributing editor for The Mercury. In her free time, you can find Kenzie listening to music, writing poetry, and hanging out with friends.

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