Joanna Schroeder knows that she should probably write about the news of two celebrities who may be having an affair. But she decided to write about why she’d rather not.
This past week, in an article about Mike White Sr, who saved his son’s girlfriend’s life in the Aurora movie theater, GMP writer Cameron Conaway said this:
Good men are made in moments, millions of them. Some are of astounding stress, others of total temptation, most are mundane. Like tiny particles of dust these moments all congeal and at the end of a man’s life people mill around a casket or grave or urn or memory and say or think: He was a good man.
While he was talking about Mike White Sr, he could’ve been talking about any man… Or any woman for that matter. Often our best and worst moments happen in a flash so sudden and instinctual that we don’t notice it coming. They can be small—like helping a parent with small children carry groceries, or giant—like Mike White holding in Farrah Soudani’s guts with his hands while shielding her with his body.
And when the bad things happen, we’re most often not trying to be “good” or “bad”—we’re just being.
Some of our worst moments are cultivated in that terribly fertile soil of pain and fear, and are also informed by outside forces. An extramarital affair is something that rarely happens in a moment and is almost never simple, as much as those of us on the outside wish it were. And as much potential damage there is in it, it is just one act in the course of a lifetime.
Which is why I don’t want to write about Kristen Stewart cheating on her boyfriend, Rob Pattinson, with a married man. (Though of course I realize the irony that in writing about not wanting to write about them I am, in fact, writing about them!)
Ultimately, I don’t want to condemn these people publicly for something I know nothing about and am not involved in. I realize they may have inadvertently made it public by being photographed allegedly kissing in public, but even in a case like that, we simply do not know what was happening. And we don’t know the state of either of their relationships.
There is an amazing story that went viral the other day about a blogger who discovered a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist canoodling with a Senator. The blogger wrote journalist Connie Schultz an email threatening to “out” this relationship and admonishing her for hugging Senator Sherrod Brown.
“Dear Mr. [Name Deleted]: I am surprised you did not find a photo of me kissing U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown so hard he passes out from lack of oxygen. He’s really cute. He’s also my husband. You know that, right?”
And true to the integrity of a Pulitzer-caliber journalist, she declined to share the blogger’s name.
Now, I’m not saying that it’ll be revealed that Stewart and Sanders are married. I’m simply saying to all of us in the blogosphere and in tabloids: Let’s stay out of it.
Because the one thing I know is that a good man’s life is never filled only with good acts. My life has been deeply faulted, I’ve made decisions that I’ve regretted, and I know that almost every one of you reading this has as well. It may not be cheating on a spouse, it may be something else, but we can be grateful that 99% of us will never have our mistakes plastered across every magazine on the news stand.
It’s not up to me to decide whether Rupert Sanders is a good man, or whether Kristen Stewart is a bad woman. We all can decide for ourselves whether having an affair is something we should or would do, but when it comes to the lives of a family with children, I’d feel better not adding to the public shaming of a man and a woman whose situations we simply know nothing about.
I’m not even trying to condemn others writers who do choose to cover the details, after all these are celebrities. And a well-known trade-off to fame is a certain loss of privacy. But just because they’re public figures, doesn’t mean their feelings matter less, and speculating about other peoples’ private lives just sorta leaves me feeling icky.
What do you think? Do people give up the right to a private life when they get famous?
Is there anything to be gained from observing celebrities’ lives?
Or am I just being old fashioned and naive?
Lead photo of Connie Schultz and Sherrod Brown canoodling courtesy of AP/Tony Dejak