Think of celebrities as our gladiator class: they step into the ring and do all sorts of stuff we’d never dream of doing ourselves. We watch through our fingers when they do, but we never look away. We love them as specimens, powerful in ways we could never be. We love them for being more perfect than we are. But we also love them when they’re not.
It’s not exactly Schadenfreude, the self-affirmation we feel when someone with every advantage fails. Okay, maybe we did delight in that Britney head-shaving, but there’s something else in there, and it’s not really about wanting them to feel bad. It’s about us feeling good when we forgive them. It’s reverse Schadenfreude, if you will, founded in our Puritan past.
Let loose your grip Hollywood. We’ll be there to catch you when you fall. And we’ll be feeling fantastic about ourselves while we do.