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Ariana Grande’s doughnut scandal is an important reminder: The cameras are always watching

Ariana Grande at the Grammy Awards. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Ariana Grande and her boyfriend walk into a California doughnut shop. While the employee walks away from the counter, they lick some doughnuts set out on the counter and laugh about it. When the employee comes back with a tray of doughnuts, Grande says disdainfully, “What is the f— is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.”

Who really cares, right? WRONG. This is the new celebrity era where basically everything is recorded, everything is sold to a gossip site, everything goes viral, and everyone has to apologize.

[From Jay Z and Solange to Rep. Vance McAllister, how does security footage get leaked?]

Grande’s doughnut scandal followed that pattern exactly, as TMZ posted security camera footage from Wolfee Donuts this week. On Wednesday afternoon, the 22-year-old pop star released an apology to those angry about those anti-American, anti-doughnut sentiments: “I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend…was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words,” she said, implying that her angry words stemmed from her frustration at this country’s unhealthy eating habits.

After the video went viral, it was announced Grande will no longer headline this weekend’s MLB All-Star Game Concert — while some speculated it was because of the doughnut controversy, Grande says it’s because of emergency wisdom teeth surgery. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. This particular incident will blow over soon enough, and Grande can turn to her 30 million Twitter followers for comfort. But it does illustrate an important reminder for celebrities in particular: The cameras are always watching, even in very mundane places where you might not expect them.

From Ariana's doughnuts to O'Reilly's tantrums. (Video: Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

How many more times does this have to happen? A parking garage where Britt McHenry rants against a towing company employee. A sandwich shop where Jamie Lynn Spears waves around a knife to break up a fight. The many, many things that go on in an elevator, as multiple recent stories prove.

[Beyonce, Jay Z, Solange speak out about elevator video: ‘Families have problems and we’re no different’]

While stars are now accustomed to the fact that a random fan can film them on their phones at any time, and generally act accordingly, it seems they occasionally forget that hidden cameras can potentially do the most damage. That is clearly the bigger danger, particularly when there’s a payday involved: TMZ reportedly paid $250,000 for the Jay-Z and Solange elevator fight last spring. Celebrities may think that going into a store or elevator provides them privacy, history shows that idea is false.

In this case, the solution is fairly easy: Just don’t behave badly and the cameras will have nothing to show. But for celebrities who are used to acting in a consequence-free world, this is much easier said than done — and Grande’s recent incident is just another to add to the list.

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