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Image / Culture

Why we love a good celebrity feud


By Amanda Cassidy
01st Oct 2022
Why we love a good celebrity feud

From rowing royals to salacious celebrity fallouts, what is with our infatuation with those in the spotlight who argue? Amanda Cassidy reports

There’s footage floating around the internet of Brooklyn Beckham taking with his mother backstage at her show during fashion week in Paris this week.

Victoria Beckham is talking animatedly to her eldest child while he fiddles with the denim loop in his new wife’s jeans. Nicola Peltz remains facing away from the mother and son, seemingly ignoring her husband’s signalling. Conspiracy-loving gossips immediately claim it’s a sign of the ongoing feud that has cropped up between the young couple and the elder Beckham parents.

The former Spice Girl had extended an invitation to her eldest son Brooklyn, 23, and his socialite wife Nicola, 27, for her French fashion debut after reports of a falling out within the family.

Fallout

The couple attended and are reported to have arrived half an hour early to show their support. But in the 30-second clip, Victoria, wearing one of her signature black dress’ she chats with Brooklyn. Nicola, who is facing the other way as she chats to Brooklyn’s sister Harper, 11, and Cruz’s model girlfriend Tana.

Brooklyn holds the waistband of her jeans as he continues speaking to his mother, while Nicola carries on her chat with Tana.

So far, so nothing to report.

But reports of a feud between Victoria and Nicola have been rife for weeks, with Brooklyn’s wife apparently “enraging her in-laws” by speaking out of turn in an interview with Grazia magazine, saying she was ‘blanked for days’ by her mother-in-law during the design process of her wedding dress in the interview.

This comes on the back of the glee over the fallout between Prince Harry and his family after “Megxit”.  News commentators and analysts scrutinised ever move throughout the lead up and funeral of Queen Elizabeth in a bid to find evidence of tension among the family.

Communities

One only has to look at the frenzy when it came to the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial to see how disgruntled celebrities sells.

But you might be surprised to learn that their’s a science behind our infatuation with this time of unpredictable relationship among the glitterati.

In fact, our brains are wired to be intrigued by it as a form of social survival.  Our ancestors lived in small communities where everybody knew each other, and strangers didn’t come by very often.

Not only did they have to cooperate with locals to succeed against out-group communities, but they also had to figure out how to navigate the in-group, as these were their main competitors amid limited resources. As such, they had to decipher who was a reliable partner to exchange with, who was untrustworthy and so on.

An interest to acquire information about the private lives of ‘those from outta town” would have been favored by natural selection.

Knowing what to expect by watching them interact might facilitate success in competitive environments. Those who gossiped or who watched other relationships in action were more successful than those who don’t.

The other reason there were people whom we had intimate and private information about, then those people must have been socially important members of our in-group.

So the next time you find yourself clicking into a story about Brad and Angie’s divorce, remember that obsession is most likely triggered by the same mechanism that evolved to keep us informed about the alliances our important community members might have been forming.

Don’t underestimate our hang-up about social importance. Besides, the most important question of all is why was Brooklyn fiddling with his wife’s jean loops anyway.