Bashed at first sight: the experiences and coping strategies of reality-TV stars confronted with celebrity bashing

Gaëlle Ouvrein, Lara Hallam, Charlotte De Backer, Heidi Vandebosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reality-TV stars are oftentimes confronted with harsh and insulting comments, a phenomenon known as online celebrity bashing. Existing research on celebrity bashing focused especially on bystanders and perpetrators of this phenomenon and not on the victims. This study aimed to enrich the knowledge on celebrity bashing by interviewing reality-TV stars about their experience and coping with this practise. A total of 13 interviews (N = 13) were conducted among the contestants and experts (participants’ guides through the experiment) across three seasons of a popular Flemish reality-TV programme. The results indicated that all participants had been confronted with bashing comments from the audience during and after broadcasting, with some of them facing quite intense experiences. The participants pointed to the responsibility of the production team, journalists and society in general, for stimulating such bashing comments. Online celebrity bashing generated negative and uncomfortable feelings. Nearly all participants avoided responding to the comments, but mostly opted for cognitive coping strategies, such as relativizing the situation. The results of this study are relevant for prevention and intervention strategies aimed to reduce celebrity bashing practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-406
Number of pages18
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds Universiteit Antwerpen (BOF) [BOF DOC PRO 31932].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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