Celebrity feuds and what they reveal about human emotions

August 11, 2014

Part of the reason society is so obsessed with celebrities is that we study them to search for clues that beneath the designer clothes and millions of dollars, they really are regular people.

That’s the twisted genius of US Magazine’s “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” feature. Sure, we make fun, but sometimes it is a tiny bit comforting to know that Sofia Vergara or someone like her gets parking tickets, too.

That brings us to the last few weeks, when multiple celebrity feuds have emerged in the press. Underneath it all (aside from the guilty pleasure tabloid reading), there’s real human emotion.

Allow us to break it down for you, which may give some insight about why so many are fascinated by these spectacles.

Tia Mowry (Kevin Winter/Getty Images For Paramount Pictures)
Tia Mowry (Kevin Winter/Getty Images For Paramount Pictures)

Charlize Theron and Tia Mowry

Let’s start with the silliest one. A few weeks ago, Tia Mowry (better known as one half of “Tia and Tamera” the twin duo from ’90s comedy “Sister, Sister”) told “In Touch” magazine that Charlize Theron “wasn’t very nice” to her at a spin class. Apparently, Mowry went up to her at SoulCycle and said: “Hi.” Charlize’s apparent response: An eye-roll and “Oh my God.”

Ouch! Page Six shot back on Thursday that Theron is now trying to get Mowry banned from SoulCycle for the infraction. Turns out there’s an unspoken celebrity rule that you don’t go to the press about things like this. (Theron allegedly told management, “This nobody who was famous for a minute 20 years ago can complain to the tabloids about me, but I can’t expect you to protect me from hangers-on in your studio?”)

Charlize Theron (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Charlize Theron (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Putting aside the question of whether this all actually happened and the fact that Theron comes up with some great zingers, the most telling quote is when Mowry added to In Touch: “I wasn’t over-the-top. I know how to approach another celebrity.”

You can practically feel the insecurity seeping out of that line, particularly in the use of the term “another celebrity.”

Mowry: Best known for a hit sitcom and a Style Network reality series.

Theron: Oscar winner.

Clearly they are on different levels, but the root of Mowry’s hurt feelings seemed to be that Theron didn’t recognize her in the exclusive “fame” club, unlike all the other loser non-famous spinners at SoulCycle.

And who hasn’t felt excluded from a group when they thought they were a member all along? Overall: A very normal, relatable emotion. Although most times, the go-between is a mutual friend and not In Touch magazine.

Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj

It didn’t take Lil’ Kim long to respond when Nicki Minaj appeared on Beyonce’s “Flawless” remix earlier this month, proclaiming she was “The queen of rap slaying with Queen B.”

Lil’ Kim didn’t like being usurped from what she considered her rightful throne, and fought back via Instagram: A photo of her driver’s license, with Minaj’s face photoshopped over own.

Not really “subtle,” but it did the trick. And she took things further by releasing her own “Flawless” remix with words we can’t print here. Then, she dropped a track called “Identity Theft” on Thursday. “I gave birth to your style,” Lil’ Kim says, not naming names, but no one needed to guess who she was talking about. Especially when she tweeted pictures like this.

So, not too hard to figure out what’s going on here, but at its core, there’s a lot of fear. No one wants to feel irrelevant.

While Lil’ Kim is going a bit over the top to get her point across, it’s clear she doesn’t like the idea of a new, younger, very successful rapper on the scene — especially one who’s gunning for her title. That idea, particularly in Hollywood but also in power dynamics in every industry, has been around for quite awhile.

Justin Bieber (Mike Windle/Getty Images For Variety)
Justin Bieber (Mike Windle/Getty Images For Variety)

Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber

Speaking of passive aggressive Instagram photos, who didn’t devour the details that leaked about the recent incident in Ibiza when Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber ran into each other at a restaurant?

The story goes a bunch of different ways, but essentially Bieber — at one point photographed hanging out with Bloom’s ex-wife, supermodel Miranda Kerr — said something rude to Bloom about Kerr. That’s when Bloom, who has also spent time with Bieber’s ex-ish girlfriend Selena Gomez, allegedly took a swing at the Biebs (while the fellow patrons apparently loved it).

Orlando Bloom (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
Orlando Bloom (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Anyway, the tabloids had great fun with all of that madness, especially when Bieber started posting Instagram photos of Kerr and a shot of Bloom crying. (Both have been deleted.) Stephen Colbert had an incredible rundown of the incident and the deeper meaning.

At the end of the day though, it’s all about the frustration and hurt of a love triangle. Or, in this case, possibly quadrangle.

Many people can understand the emotions running high behind this one, which is part of what made it such an irresistible story. You’ve got these two millionaires, who can have pretty much anything they could ever want, but don’t appreciate someone else dating their ex. There’s nothing more human than that.

Plus in this case, Bieber’s passive aggressive Instagram posts remind us just how much celebrities — even a wildly successful pop star — can just be as petty and terrible as anyone else. (Though for Bieber, that’s not exactly a stretch.)

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.
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Emily Yahr · August 11, 2014