Interested or intrusive: what makes celebrity announcements so enjoyable

Autumn Lily discusses the recent announcement that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting a baby and explores why it is we take such interest in the lives of public figures.

Autumn Lily
15th March 2021
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - October 28: THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF SUSSEX'S VISIT TO NEW ZEALAND: Engagement 6. Reception hosted by the Governor-General, Government House. October 28, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/ http://marktantrum.com)
On Valentine’s Day this year, 37 years since Princess Diana announced she was pregnant with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle announced to the world that she is pregnant with her second child. In November 2020, Markle wrote in the New York Times, revealing she’d had a miscarriage. Both announcements caused headlines around the world and sparked discussion among the press and public.  A month earlier, model Chrissy Teigen had shared her pregnancy loss on Instagram. Markle’s and Teigen’s brave and candid announcements consequently sparked a similarly honest discussion on miscarriages, as, through social media, non-famous women came forward with their own experiences, and found solidarity in those of the famous women.

People continue to look forward to baby announcements because we get to join our favourite couples on the next step of their journey together

This example could be the most positive side effect of celebrities sharing their personal life with the public. Much like the MeToo movement, many women found the strength to talk about their own experiences, opening up a public discussion and educating people about the issue. In many ways, women related to Teigen and Markle as if they were a friend, finding solace in their shared suffering, and now celebrating Markle’s new pregnancy. The blend that these stars create, between them being superstar names, while simultaneously releasing announcements of relatable life events, is what creates the personal connection between the figure and their fans. People continue to look forward to baby announcements because we get to join our favourite couples on the next step of their journey together, and discuss it with those around us as if they were a mutual friend.

Image credit: Wikimedia, Mark Jones

However, it would be naive to pretend that our interest in celebrities' personal lives exists only in this wholesome, honest way. Both Teigen and Markle were the target of hatred, and sceptisism, with the former even coming to the latter’s defence when Markle was accused of self interest and self promotion. It is this more vicious response that is perhaps the darker side of the public's interest in finding out about celebrity’s private lives. News of divorce, affairs and immoral behaviour mirror our own life in the same way news of marriage and pregnancy does, and as we enjoy gossiping about each other, we enjoy the shock reveals of the less joyful events in celebrity’s lives. However, even the autonomy to announce these public life events can be robbed from celebrities, seen in the leaks of Kim and Kanye’s divorce, and even more tragically, TMZ publishing the news of Kobe Bryant’s death before his family has been notified by the police. It is this exploitative side of the press that has been recently highlighted in documentaries such as, Framing Britney Spears and Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out, where the brutal treatment of women especially has been brought to the forefront. While the intrigue of personal announcements of those in the public sphere seems to continue to be present, the necessity of such a ruthless coverage of it is beginning to be questioned.

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