Celebrity court cases have become a spectacle

By Luna Michaels

Ever since the infamous Depp v Heard trial, we have seen celebrity trials become some sort of event that everyone tunes in and live tweets. Actor and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow is the latest victim of the circus.

It’s almost becoming a joke. I’ve seen memes and outfit reviews, as well as praising Paltrow for her choice of sparkling water. But it all started to bother me when her claiming she felt like she was being sexually assaulted got used as a reaction pic on Twitter.

In what world is it appropriate to make light of such serious topics? Whether you like her or not, are on her side or not, you can’t just reduce someone’s experience to a round of jokes.

The second most recent case was the Megan Thee Stallion case against Tory Lanez, which replicated the Depp v Heard trial like crazy. Everyone turning against Megan and downplaying her experiences felt familiar.

Having people debate the evidence and put in their two cents felt wrong. There was no shortage of “meme-age” and even the last words of Lanez’s father were made into an everlasting reaction video.

Violence against women, and specifically domestic violence, isn’t something we should be turning into a joke. The problem with this is not that it is being commented on, which is inevitable with public figures, but instead that the actual issues being presented are being reduced to nothing but a few laughs.

In other examples we have the fascination with Britney Spears’ court case trying to end her conservatorship. It became a phenomenon with the #FreeBritney movement helping push her along the way.  

I have seen fan cams made of Britney’s lawyer and personally have watched whole live streams of her in court.

With fans waited outside the court and listened to proceedings play out of a speaker, then it all being shared with the world, we have something completely unusual for a case we know so little about.  

People take court drawings of figures like the Kardashians and find a way to fit it into their feeds. There are so many questions on how we even get access to this stuff and if we should have it. 

There’s nothing like a quote straight out of the courtroom to be giffed and referenced forever whether it’s Naomi Campbell’s “this is a big inconvenience for me” or the new contender Amber Heard’s “my dog stepped on a bee”. Even celebrities like Doja Cat are caught making light of these words.

From Winona Ryder to Lindsay Lohan, court pictures, outfits, even nail polish in Lindsay’s case, and quotes have been glamorised and celebrated as “iconic”.

This has been the case from before that dreaded day in April 2022 (The Depp vs Heard trial), as soon as a celebrity enters the court room everyone watches, decides for themselves and uses photos as social media content.

But what is the fascination and is it healthy for us to continue this behaviour? The seriousness of a case seemingly disappears when a famous face is entering the courtroom. Does someone status dictate how seriously we take them? 

The behaviour of entertainers is always gonna be something that invites chatter but how far it too far? The way forward is making sure we are serious about things that deserve seriousness. 

We could argue all through the night about how funny or not funny it is that Gwyneth Paltrow says the worst part of causing irreversible injuries to someone in a clash is that she lost a half day of skiing but when it comes to the way she felt when a man fell on top of her out of nowhere, it’s time to step away. 

With the end of the Gwyneth case, and the possibility of a new case with Jonathan Majors, it’s to be expected that this will continue for time to come, but should it?

Probably not.

Featured image: Lindsay Lohan’s trial was the prototypical celebrity circus. Pictures: Globovision/CC/flickr

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