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An Appropriate Penalty for Celebrity Offense


Celebrities are in a position of admiration and adoration from millions of local fans and many international ones. American society places people that simply act in modern plays for higher salaries than the majority of the population on pedestals, and while this in itself is a mockery of all major issues in the country such as the economy, alternative energy development research, and even more general concepts such as the general direction of the country, the mentality continues.

Celebrities work in fantasy lands knowing they are waiting to be seen in a position that will increase their fame, reputation, money, and other gains. Movies are a primary source of entertainment, and it is the money generated from this demand for entertainment that can place the street actors from peasant-like lifestyles of the old ages into an idolized highly upper-class status that is evident in today’s society.

Despite the wealth being generated by consumers, as it is not the government or any other primary authoritative body providing the income for these people, judicial officials commonly allow for celebrities to not be punished in a similar manner for their actions. It is a matter of fundamental ethics that celebrities should be punished the same as anyone else for committing crimes. It could even be argued that celebrities be punished even more for their actions as their fame puts them in a role model position while they have an influence on so many people (including young impressionable children.)

Celebrity action and effect

When celebrities commit crimes, it is all over the news, and because of the media’s effectiveness (and relentlessness,) American citizens learn that even the most famous and idolized people are committing criminal acts that normally carry very negative stigmas and stiff legal consequences. Paris Hilton has been caught shoplifting on numerous occasions, Mel Gibson has been caught driving while intoxicated along with several countless actors and actresses, Brittney Spears and Lindsey Lohan have been reported to be cocaine experimenters or users frequently checking themselves in and out of rehab, rappers shoot each other or at homes or businesses, and domestic violence also frequents Hollywood.

On the whole, these people do not face the same consequences as the average citizens in society. This likely happens for two reasons in most cases: either they have money to pay someone off either on or off the record, or there is a personal connection on some level that results in the normal mandatory repercussions to never take place (True Crime Report). Whether judges are bought off, somebody knows someone else who makes decisions, or the celebrity is simply viewed with bias through the courts, something takes place that prevents the same actions from happening.

The United Nations

While America is one of the major companies where this is taking place, the nation is not alone with such a problem, as other countries too are seeing similar crime problems with celebrities. This is especially true with drug abuse. The United Nations has even spoken out about the issue, clearly stating that celebrities using controlled substances are not been penalized enough. The United Nations further expresses the view that this is indeed sending a negative message, one which can be regarded as dangerous to young impressionable viewers (Skynews).

The United Nations (UN) conducted a report to analyze various legal systems across the world with regards to how criminals are prosecuted when they happen to hold the status of being a celebrity. The UN expressed even more concern still that so much attention was paid towards these celebrities, and while they were not even being punished agreeably to outsiders, the attention had been shifted away from serious offenders such as gangs and other high-profile users or dealers (Skynews).

This creates a dually negative effect, naturally, while celebrities that violate the law should be both punished according to standard while no additional energy is spent on their cases. The UN reported that many countries were in fact not hard enough on famous users, reassuring the United States (though possibly guiltier of this than other nations) was not alone. The UN International Narcotics Control board further reported that the rising production of opium in the Middle Eastern countries was causing heroin use to become more rampant in celebrities as well as the general population (Skynews).

Societal implications

In America, the number of celebrity crimes has no sign of slowing. While the more serious offenses of O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson cause the most shock, the drug use and DUI charges of popular idolized pop singers continue to disgust parents of children looking up to or idolizing the artists. This age of celebrity crime forgiveness sends a message that allowing such behavior effectively communicates that this is the pinnacle of human behavior and as such is subject to some level or forgiveness.

While money can arguable compensation for deviant behavior more so than the other common legal penalties, the ethical principle of been treated equally in all facets of the law is undermined entirely (Nykol).

Furthermore, in some cases status alone warrants the excusal as not even money is required in an attempt to equalize the wrong-doings (Associated Content). Society mocks its own intellect by allowing this to happen while we continue to idolize the characters and worship those who become rich in positions that, centuries ago, were not much more lucrative than panhandling carnivals, or street magic. While the celebrities themselves are not made to deal with the repercussions of their actions, their audience will remain to view their illegal and unethical actions and being forgiven by their status in terms of money.

Concluding remarks

There are many ethical issues with celebrities getting away with crimes, and this potentially reveals the epitome of social and societal problems. First, we have the status of people concerning money and fame rather than other standards such as the importance of a job or some other more meaningful social standard. Next, we have the crime itself. Furthermore, we see how our legal system can bend to not only any aspect at all, but to one that does not offer adequate compensation for the changes in action (i.e. no proportionality.) Furthermore, the role models of the young and the objects of the public eye and media attention are regarded to be so important that they are forgiven for actions condemned by the law (True Crime Report).

One is forced to ask oneself if the contributions made by millionaire stars of modern plays really change the world in such a positive way that it is worth negative actions so much that they can be forgiven or ignored. The legal system, ethics, Hollywood, and the general intelligence of humans as a species will continue to be undermined and mocked so long as these circumstances are allowed to take place.

Works Cited

Associated Content, “Are Celebrities Getting Away With Crime”, 2007.

Nykol, Ambra, “Celebrity get-out-of-jail-free card”, SeattlePi, 2005.

Skynews, “UN: ‘Celebs Get Away With Drug Abuse,” BSky, 2008.

True Crime Report, “American Idol Rejects, Britney Spears and Wormholes, Oh My!”, Village Voice, 2009.


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