If you were doing any social media in April 2020, you would have undoubtedly seen a stream of photos and videos featuring the handsome English actor Robert Pattinson. With a stunning filmography that includes popular movies such as Good Will Hunting, The Lost City, and The High Road, as well as a renowned music career that has spanned more than two decades, it is no wonder why so many people were captivated by this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Pattinson took home the golden palm for Best Actor for his role in the drama Mr. Midsommar, directed by Ariane Labed. The movie is based on the best-selling novel by the Swedish author Maria Mills. It is the follow-up to the actor’s highly acclaimed performance as a deranged musician in the 2019 film The House of Gucci. When the Italian luxury goods company acquired the rights to the book, it was clear that they had found the perfect match for their star product.
While the actor has been relatively silent regarding his newfound celebrity status, he did venture out for a rare appearance at the 2020 edition of the Toronto Film Festival. On October 11, Canada’s largest film festival unveiled several new projects that Pattinson will star in, including the movie Blackbird, based on the eponymous 2014 memoir by the late British author and journalist James Maclaurin. The actor will be portraying the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis, and is also set to appear in the movie The Last Days of Night, opposite Annette Benning and Chris Cooper.
In early June, the Cannes Film Festival bestowed its highest honor upon Pattinson, bestowing the Palme d’Or on his work in Mr. Midsommar, a black-and-white movie about a man who kidnaps his sister’s husband (Pattinson plays the role of John). At the 2020 edition of the festival, the actor took the stage to accept his trophy and deliver a special message to the audience.
“I’d like to thank the people of France for making this possible,” he said. “And I’d like to thank all of you for coming here, watching the films, and being a part of this. My heart belongs to France and the people of Cannes. The rest of my heart belongs to New York and all of it to the people I don’t even know. Because that’s what real love is. You can’t fight it.”
The Celebrity Effect
While the world has turned its attention to the pandemic, social media has continued to grow, especially TikTok, the app that has risen to become the 2nd largest social media platform in the world, only behind Facebook. People flock to the app to find entertainment and connect with others. As a result, many people may now be feeling a little overexposed, especially those who became famous during the pandemic.
The British Journal of Psychiatry has even labeled the experience of being a celebrity during a pandemic “the celebrity effect.” The article, published in October 2019, cites a study that surveyed 1,600 adults in London. It found that those who experienced a large increase in their public profile during the pandemic were more likely to report a range of symptoms, from anxiety to depression, than those who didn’t experience much change in their social media presence. The researchers concluded that being a celebrity may be detrimental to your mental health during this time.
TikTok’s ‘Celebrity Effect’ May Be Detrimental To Mental Health
The study conducted by the British Journal of Psychiatry on Londoners in the wake of the pandemic is the first to look into the possible “celebrity effect” on mental health. However, in the past, there have been several instances where social media’s “celebrity effect” has been blamed for a significant drop in a celebrity’s mental health.
In 2018, YouTube personality and songwriter Kelly Curtis documented a significant mental health decline that she attributed to her success on TikTok. In an excerpt from her memoir, Confessions of a Social Media Superstar, she wrote that she became addicted to the platform after gaining 15 million followers on TikTok. The following year, the Swedish music channel SVT Play removed several of its artists from its playlist after they complained that their mental health was suffering due to overconsumption of celebrity content on the platform. In 2020, mental health experts warned that the “celebrity effect” could be harming the mental health of those who consume too much content created by famous people.
While the “celebrity effect” continues to be a cause for concern, research on the subject is relatively scarce. However, the British Journal of Psychiatry article does cite several possible explanations for why the effect could be occurring. One reason could be the rise of “influencer mental health,” referring to the increasing number of people, usually in their twenties, who have developed an unhealthy obsession with gaining online popularity. This could lead to depression and anxiety disorders, as well as a decreased sense of self-worth. In the same way that infomercials and online influencers use celebrities to attract and retain audiences, these platforms may be causing more harm than good.
The Biggest Stars Are Also The Ones Who Feel The Biggest Decrease In Mental Health
The article published by the British Journal of Psychiatry also cites an explanation that is perhaps more devastating than any other: the celebrities who feel the biggest decrease in their mental health are usually the ones who were already struggling with issues stemming from their celebrity in the first place.
When the world finds out that a celeb is struggling with their mental health, it can often times feel like a kick in the gut. These are the people who we look up to and want to emulate. Suddenly, their personal struggles feel more important than ever before because the world is watching. Even fans and people who don’t usually follow celebrity news can sometimes feel affected because they, too, feel a connection to the celebrities in some way.
According to Dr. Kate Durbin, a clinical psychologist and owner of Durbin Psychotherapy, “We are not just bystanders to this mental health crisis. There are many psychological factors that come into play, and being a celebrity is certainly one of them. With more people having access to sophisticated tools such as virtual therapists and wellness coaches via digital applications, it is never been more important to try and understand what is going on inside our bodies and minds. It is crucial that we try and find a way to support and protect our mental health during this time.”
How To Stay Healthy Amidst The Pandemic
As the world tries to come to terms with the mental health effects of celebrity, it is also important to remember that there are ways that we can all stay healthy during this time. Chief among them is regular exercise and proper eating. Staying hydrated is also key, as is trying to avoid exposure to the sun, which can cause dehydration and exacerbate anxiety. Finally, as our society becomes more digital, it is important to remember to stay connected with friends and family, engage with strangers, and maintain a sense of humor.
There will undoubtedly be more studies into the effects of social media on mental health, and perhaps one day we will know more than we do now. For now, we know that being a celebrity during this time is certainly distressing, especially if you are already a celebrity or aspiring to be one.