It must be nice to be famous. It’s no secret that larger-than-life personalities get special treatment: red carpet photo-ops, sleek limousines, first-class seats next to Oprah, loudly slurping oysters, and the like.
Even during the low moments when those handcuffs click on — as they inevitably will — it’s not as bad for them as for the rest of us. Like being arrested for being drunk and racist (see: Mel Gibson). Or masturbating in public (sorry Pee-wee and Fred Willard). Or being drunk and high (see: most celebrities at some point in their career). Almost every famous person makes the news for some sort of bad behavior; it wouldn’t be Hollywood without it.
While being arrested can be a life-changing event for normals, for celebrities, it’s kind of like a hobby. Even their embarrassing, and sometimes downright miserable, run-ins with the law can be just another way to fuel their already ample supply of star power. The celebrity world might be twisted, but in this twisted world, being arrested takes on a whole new glow of cool.
Any Press is Good Press
You know how they say, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Well, for celebrities who make their living on their buzz, this is truer than ever. Maybe Lindsay Lohan doesn’t love how many mugshots there are of her on the Internet, but one thing you can say about that troubled young woman is that she has some serious pull in the media.
There isn’t a Starbucks-guzzling American alive who doesn’t know about her infamous life challenges — and thus, she stays in the dead center of the spotlight. It’s almost inspiring how many ways this fiery actress can get arrested in such a short period of time — and she’s even gotten one of her especially impressive episodes dubbed, “The 12 Days of Lindsay’s Train Wreck.” Though we can sympathize with a star’s personal troubles, when it comes to their career, any press is good press.
We won’t be forgetting about LiLo as long as she’s a mess.
Keeps Them in the Public Eye
It must be hard to balance being a celebrity 100 percent of the time. They are also regular human beings with a family, personal troubles, personality dysfunctions, and all those difficult little life things that plague all us regular folk. There’s only so much time in life to produce hit singles and change your baby’s diapers. So, when a celebrity falls off the mainstream radar, getting arrested is a convenient way to say, “Hey world, I’m still here, even if you can’t see me.” For example, when was the last time you saw ’90s rapper MC Hammer being featured for some talent other than being arrested? The first page of Google says it all. After having been stopped for expired tags and arrested for “obstructing an officer,” then tweeting that he may have been a victim of racial profiling, Mr. Hammer’s arrest places him back in the forefront of our minds by reminding us that he is, indeed, “Too Legit to Quit.”
Keeps the Social Media Conversation Going
Hammer was able to convey his racial profiling message via Twitter and rile up a heated conversation with his followers because we all love a good story, and celebrity arrests make for some of the most talked-about.
Social media has been amazing for celebrities in the past few years. Twitter, especially, has given the Average Joe a platform to communicate with, about and straight to their favorite heavyweight personalities. Instead of writing a letter to Natalie Portman, you can confess your undying love for her via your Twitter stream. Not that she’ll respond. But you can do it. Or, you can tweet your opinion on how effective plastic zip ties are for arresting George Clooney. In addition to the fact that using plastic ties as handcuffs is just kind of funny, fans are enamored with the goings-on of stars in general; celebrity arrests keep the social media conversations flowing. Just hashtag #celebrityarrests and you’ll see an example of how people are keeping tabs on celebrities’ criminal arrest records via social media.
Furthers Their Political Cause
The reason why Clooney was taken away in zip ties was because he was using his stardom to bring attention to the violence happening in Sudan. Protesting on the lawn of the Sudanese embassy in Washington, this chiseled celebrity had full intention to get some cop-action going. For those larger-than-life personalities who care about the injustices in the world, handcuffs, interviews and mugshots could be the perfect recipe for using their fame to raise awareness of political issues. Daryl Hannah and two of the Kennedys recently landed themselves in a squad car for protesting an oil pipeline on the White House lawn. Politically ccccfminded VIPs know that getting arrested is a great way to champion their cause.
Reveals Their Human Side
Celebrities are used to being in the limelight, but when they receive public attention for arrests that are beyond their control, it puts them in the public eye in a different, and sometimes extremely effective, way. When the tabloids featured Shia LeBeouf getting escorted out of a Walgreen’s in 2008 for just wanting to buy pimple cream, cigarettes and gummy bears while being wasted and belligerent, it reminds us that the bigwigs are just people, too. Pimple cream and gummy bears? Aww! Who can’t relate to that?
Or Just Reinforces Their Reputation
On the flipside, however, getting arrested can sometimes just bolster a celeb’s already clearly prominent reputation. In this case, it depends on what they’re being arrested for. Take Matthew McConaughey, for example; all the way back in 1999, this heartthrob star was arrested while relaxing in his Texas home for possession of marijuana. The best part? He was also playing the bongos — naked. If it were anyone but McConaughey, this arrest might not have been so sexy.
Another time, Steve-O, the infamous Jackass star, was picked up for obscenity charges; he was in the middle of stapling his scrotum to his thigh when the police intervened. For this jackass, his arrest record works for, rather than against, him because they’re just another way to catalogue the ridiculous array of stunts that strengthen his reputation as a professional jokester.
Drew Hendricks is a tech and environmental addict that has written for a wide variety of different publishers. Tweet him @DrewAHendricks.