We all know celebrities live in a rare and rarefied bubble, but that’s never more apparent than when it bursts. Take Jessica Biel, who recently stuck her foot far enough in her mouth that she might still be picking toe lint out of her molars: In discussing her new period flick Easy Virtue, as compared to her previous straight-to-DVD movie in which she played a stripper, Biel told Allure that she can’t get meaty roles because she’s just too hot. Any publicist worth the fee could have predicted the ensuing Internet firestorm from unsympathetic readers who are pretty sure that is not an actual tragic problem (sample comment: “Can I throw up now? Boo-freaking-hoo!”). Critics who bewail that Hollywood is out of touch with the heartland generally get dismissed as uptight buzzkills, but they have a point: More often than not, celebs’ attempts at proving they’re relatably “real” backfire massively because they don’t actually know what reality is anymore.
Biel may be the newest poster child for Hollywood obliviousness, but she’s hardly the trailblazer. Cameron Diaz once suggested that being super-hot is just as big a burden as being fat. In an article accompanied by a photo shoot in which she posed alternately in swimsuits and underwear, Jessica Alba told GQ that it’s seriously awful looking so fantastic in tiny bikinis on movie sets because then people look at you. (Cue the violins.) Law & Order: SVU’s Mariska Hargitay — alongside co-star Chris Meloni —
just ended is in the midst of a public squabble with NBC over her insufficient salary, allegedly $7 million in 2008, even as the wilting economy has her potential audience hoarding its last $7. But Biel’s remarks were a perfect storm of bad judgment. We can’t imagine too many beauty-mag readers care to hear that Justin Timberlake’s girlfriend, who just hit the Met ball in Versace and jewels, suffers because her DNA is too awesome. And unless you’re appearing on Unemployed Monthly, don’t bemoan your career-stifling hotness while promoting a movie on the cover of a national publication, especially when so many Americans legitimately are out of work rather than merely stuck with a paralyzing inability to generate Oscar buzz. The average consumer probably greets such trauma with an expletive-riddled suggestion that these yahoos don’t know real problems.
Because stars aren’t just like us, no matter how often Us Weekly proclaims the opposite above photos of them pumping gas or using a napkin. We’re sure Biel truly does see her beauty as a terrible curse, and Alba gets sick of being ogled, and they believe sharing this with the world illustrates that they’re relatable girls with actual problems. But, newsflash: Acne is a relatable problem. A bad sense of direction is a relatable problem. And yes, not being taken seriously because you’re beautiful can be a problem … if you are, say, a Supreme Court justice or a Navy SEAL, rather than someone working in an industry that regularly rewards superior genetics. Even Transformers bombshell Megan Fox, who otherwise has rampant foot-in-mouth syndrome, admits she’s only famous in the first place because she’s gorgeous. A condition that, incidentally, doesn’t seem to have hampered Biel in landing that Allure cover.
So, PR teams, clamp down on your clients before they create empathy voids no spin doctor can fix. There’s a reason talented hotties like Angelina, Charlize, and Halle don’t whine much about anything: They’re savvy enough to know that Jane Q. Public doesn’t want to hear it. When it comes right down to it, complaining does not make a celebrity more appealing. It doesn’t make them relatable. It makes them annoying. That doesn’t exactly sell movie tickets, and we’re pretty sure that being unable to get butts in the seats is a worse career stumbling block than crippling hotness any day.
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