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Why can't we accept that celebs suffer like rest of us?

As I See It

By Neha Shah

Published 14/05/2016

Neha Shah
Neha Shah

Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears - nothing appears to fascinate us more than a sensational rise to celebrity, followed by a dramatic or tragic fall, especially if its subject is female.

The actress Sheridan Smith is the latest victim of our morbid curiosity, having been subject to considerable abuse after pulling out of her West End performance as Fanny Brice for the third night in a row.

Her father, Colin, is gravely ill with cancer and lives four hours away and she tweeted that she is simply "not strong enough" to do the show. She has described her role in the musical as an "emotional rollercoaster", claiming it feels like "doing a marathon every night".

Public reaction, especially on Twitter, has been incredibly obnoxious, with people calling her a "loose cannon nutcase" who should "just get over it" because she's not "starving, homeless or disabled".

We have always demanded huge self-sacrifice from our performers and we are quick to forget that the mask of whichever character they might be playing does not provide automatic distraction from their own physical, or mental, suffering.

The reaction from the Savoy Theatre also reflects a disappointing lack of empathy. They tweeted on Tuesday that Smith would be replaced by Natasha J Barnes due to "the indisposition of Sheridan Smith". It was unsympathetic wording, to say the least.

Smith is undoubtedly a brilliant performer, with a Bafta, two Oliviers and even an OBE at just 34 years of age, but in our obsession with idolising celebrity figures, we often forget that performers are people, too.

In a world where people aren't allowed to take time out because they can't cope, how can we expect to see enlightened attitudes?

Invisible injuries are no less debilitating than visible ones. It's time we start respecting that.

Belfast Telegraph

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