Despite having fancy cars and extremely successful careers, celebrities are not free from the justice system of America. In August 2020, Lori Loughlin was sentenced for her role in the college admissions scandal. This scandal involved Laughlin and other parents bribing recruiters to get their children admission to the college of their choice. According to CNN, she has to serve two months in a federal prison and serve two years of supervised releases afterwards with 100 hours of community service. She also had to pay a fine of $150,000. This is not a light sentencing, but when the circumstances surrounding Loughlin are further investigated, it becomes clear that as a celebrity and public figure, she received favor from the prosecution.
When celebrities are on trial, they may receive some favor from the jury, but it is not as cut and dry as it may seem. As celebrities, they typically have access to more money and resources than others, which can result in better legal defense than the general population would have. Then, there is the public approval aspect. Depending on who the celebrity is and the crime convicted, people may not view the crime as seriously because of their perception of the convicted celebrity. Our minds can manipulate these situations to give ourselves more comfort in the face of it.
In the case of Lori Loughlin, she stole America’s heart on “Full House” as Uncle Jesse’s love interest. She seemed like such an innocent and loving person in the show, so when the actress was sentenced and entered a plea deal the role she played in the college admissions scandal, people struggled to believe that she could have been involved; perceiving Loughlin as a criminal was hard for the public.
Another aspect of celebrity criminal cases is the pressure from media coverage and the general population to rule one way or the other. Celebrity cases have a large amount of media coverage with news outlets, and every person on the street has an idea about why the celebrity is or is not guilty. This can create an intense amount of pressure that can affect a judge’s ruling.
While it is obvious that celebrities are not inherently the ones creating these disparities in sentencings, it also must be said that celebrities have the power to affect their ruling. Whether this power comes through choice of council, media coverage or pleading guilty, celebrities have the option of using their status for their own gain during trial.
It can also be interesting to compare how many times a celebrity is convicted of a crime versus a normal person. The celebrity is in the public eye and has more responsibility, so if they mess up at all, someone will notice. It could follow then that celebrities are more likely to be charged with a crime because of this additional notice.
Regardless of the specific reasons behind celebrity charges and sentences, it is obvious that they have something that we don’t. They have the means to use the public, their fame and their money to push their own agenda. That agenda, right or wrong, allows public figures to manipulate the situation in a way that allows a better outcome for themselves.
Celebrities are humans just like you and I, and it is time that we remove these people from their pedestals and view them as equals. They are subject to the same law, and punishments and circumstances should not be allowed to change a judge’s rulings and opinions.
Lori Loughlin’s case in particular shows these celebrities using their status to get what they want. Loughlin tried to get her daughter into college and bypass the system that works for every other American. We cannot allow this. Using her privilege shows exactly how much credit and leeway we give to celebrities.
Changing our view and perspective of them will not happen overnight. Change takes time and just like any worthwhile project, it takes patience. Lower celebrities from the thrones that they are placed on in your mind. Allow yourself to view them as fellow human beings with the same rights as you and I. Because that is what they are, human. We are all humans trying to figure out the best way to navigate this world. Some people navigate this world with more money and recognition than others, but remember that this does not allow them to change what navigating life is all about. It’s beautiful and it’s messy, and it should never be about getting ahead of others for selfish reasons.