The unspoken rules of celebrity friendship


In a world where politicians lie and collude; sportsmen cheat and newly married couples commit adultery for public consumption, we are left to rely on a few sacred texts from which to draw meaning. One of those is the idea that once an ordinary person gains admission into the celebrity realm, they are bound by honour, and something akin to fame-insurance, not to speak of what transpires therein.

Oh, we know there are countless anecdotes given by “insiders” and “friends” who claim all sorts of strange and wonderful things about celebrities (usually that they are “depressed” about their “ballooning” weight gain).

But we also know that these unnamed sources are either publicists or the writers themselves. Rare is the celebrity who will go on record to talk about another celebrity. Even model and self-confessed “loud mouth” Chrissy Teigen has her limits, tweeting “I’ve said too much” when asked to weigh in on the Beyonce biting.

Haddish, however, has not been ex-communicated – yet. Although by Friday she announced she’d  signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Commentators have suggested that Beyonce wouldn’t mind that Haddish told, because Beyonce looks like the bigger person.

Really? Beyonce had her public at the point of believing she had transcended personhood to become deity-adjacent. Teeth making contact with flesh tells us she is still flesh. And I’m sure I don’t have to inform you today of how weak the flesh is.

This is not the first time a celebrity has broken with protocol. Last year Oprah Winfrey confirmed to the world that her A Wrinkle in Time co-star Mindy Kaling was pregnant.

“If anyone is going to announce big news about your private life, Oprah Winfrey is the person,” Kaling told talk show host Ellen in an interview following Winfrey’s gushing announcement. “You can’t complain that much about it. And you also can’t be like, ‘Hey, Oprah, zip it’ — because she’s almost like a religious figure.”

So we see there are rules within rules here. If the celebrity who tells is more famous, or revered, than the celebrity they are talking about, they are safe.

Not so safe, perhaps, is actress Selma Blair. In an interview with a UK outlet earlier this month, Selma unwittingly announced that her former Sweetest Thing co-star

Cameron Diaz was retired from acting. Days passed. Think-pieces were written, speculation mounted that Diaz  – who has not made a movie in four years – was in permanent hibernation with husband Benji Madden. Then, a tweet. Not from Diaz, but Blair, claiming she was “joking” and that Diaz was not in retirement.

That clanking sound you heard is Diaz blocking Blair from all her electronic devices and social media. See, it wouldn’t be a big thing if Diaz denied it, but the fact that Blair had to back-track means she was more than likely reprimanded. Why? Well we found out this week it was because Diaz wanted to tell the world herself.

We can sympathise we both Blair and Haddish; it must be difficult, as a celebrity, chatting to one journo after another, to keep all your thoughts in your head. It takes time, and, a few faux pas, to learn what is and isn’t meant for public consumption.

One celebrity who knows this better than most is Matt Damon. The actor, who despite his own missteps, is still understood to be the more functional in his public friendship with Ben Affleck, is frequently asked to explain his best friend’s (self-destructive, often baffling) decisions.

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Last weekend Damon was asked why, on God’s green Earth, did Affleck have a gigantic, garish tattoo of a phoenix splattered all over his back? Affleck had previously denied the tattoo was real, claiming in 2016 it was for a “role”. But photos of him shirtless at a beach last week contradicted this. Affleck even tweeted an admission of sorts, that yes, the tattoo was real.

It was left to Damon to explain, then.

“It’s not one man’s job to tell another man what he can do to his back” is how Damon put it. “I support him in all of his ‘artistic expression’.”

This is gracious celebrity hedging at its finest. Let’s hope Affleck doesn’t go on to bite anyone.

Natalie Reilly

Natalie Reilly is a writer for Daily Life.

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