It’s about one of those nights you have when you’re Selena Gomez, “when you’re around four people and everybody has the champagne glass, and somebody says something and they laugh but they didn’t say a joke.” Fame—a.k.a. A life determined largely by decisions she made when she was a teenager—enormous, consequential choices to first become a child actress, rictus-grinning on (a decision she made circa age 15), and then, finally, to date fellow child star Justin Bieber (a decision she made circa age 18), a seemingly innocent young man who went from fresh-faced You Tube star to heavily tattooed mop-bucket-urinator in the four on-and-off years of their courtship. Some of them are fans from way back, mostly young women. Imagine trying to live down rehab—which she either did or did not go to, more on that later—as well as a debilitating auto-immune disease, lupus, which she was diagnosed with three years ago.
daily life for Selena Gomez—is “that situation all the time.”Yeah. Imagine one day—and this happened just a few weeks ago to Selena Gomez—you become the most followed person on all of Instagram. There’s an unsettlingly large contingent of adult men, whose motivations she surely would prefer not to think about. Imagine trying to do this while scores of people—a multimillion-dollar gossip industry, quote-unquote fans, journalists who resemble the one typing this sentence—keep tossing buckets of your old life at you like the pig’s-blood scene in But I want to make the argument that what’s most interesting about Selena Gomez right now, in 2016, is that—despite the plastic, unreal world from which she comes—she’s working her hardest to become a socially maladroit weirdo. A human who would probably gently suffocate the last living northern white rhino if it guaranteed she didn’t have to be a public figure anymore. She spent every formative year of her life with no access at all to normality, and so she is just now rebuilding it from scratch, like HAL 9000 taking back the Postmates!
Once known more for her relationships with Barney the dinosaur and Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez has broken free of all of that prehistoric shit with a sexy, smash-hit album and new films with Seth Rogen and James Franco (not to mention a planet-Earth-leading 74 million Instagram followers).
But here's what we really love about her: She survived the car wreck of child fame—the trolls and the paparazzi, the bad breakups and the exhaustion—and emerged from it, well, more human than ever. All of us here in the celebrity-industrial complex we call America have learned to be especially skeptical of famous people who complain or otherwise seem uncomfortable with their fame, right?
This is maybe what sensory-deprivation tanks are like.