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When the Celebrity Family Goes Rogue

Published on Sept. 21, 2022, at 4:09 p.m.
by Annabelle Blomeley.

Sometimes celebrities and influencers can technically do everything right. From monitoring what they say, to being altruistic enough to stay “unproblematic” in the public eye, sometimes maintaining their own public image isn’t enough. When their families start getting in the way of their reputation, it can become a problem for celebrities and publicists alike.

Recently, Addison Rae, a famous TikTok influencer with more than 88 million followers, was brought to the forefront of celebrity gossip when videos of her father, Monty Lopez, flirting with and inappropriately touching young women surfaced. While some may think this controversy was the only part of the PR storm, Rae’s mother, Sheri Easterling, then split with her husband and went to the MTV Video Music Awards with rapper Yung Gravy, who recently surprised the internet by revealing he’s into older women.

While there’s much more to the story, including Easterling and Yung Gravy making out at the awards show and Lopez posting to TikTok threatening to beat up the young rapper, Rae has remained completely silent, save for unfollowing both of her parents on Instagram and tweeting about how “life is weird.”

Rae’s approach to her family gossip has decidedly worked, as many fans and non-fans on Twitter and TikTok are feeling bad for her. So, while most controversies might require press releases and social media statements for crisis aversion, when it comes to drama your family created, it might be best to stay silent.

In fact, Rae’s silence in the wake of her parents’ recent acts has turned the public in her favor, and people quickly forgave her for wearing a Holy Trinity-themed bikini set. However, publicists and PR professionals maybe shouldn’t rely on familial problems to get their clients out of negative press.

In another controversy that has rocked the internet in recent weeks, Sydney Sweeney, the “Euphoria” star made famous for her portrayal of Cassie Howard, posted pictures from her mother’s birthday party with no problem. In other photos that her brother posted, however, many were quick to point out an attendee wearing a red “Make Sixty Great Again” hat and a man wearing a Blue Lives Matter shirt.

The “Make Sixty Great Again” hat is a spin on former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, while the Blue Lives Matter shirt is a reference to a movement that arose after the Black Lives Matter movement called for an end to police brutality and violence toward Black communities. Blue Lives Matter, which is a reference to police officers who often wear blue, formed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and has since been found in far right-wing communities that uphold white supremacy.

While it was clear that Sweeney carefully chose noncontroversial photos for her own Instagram, she probably didn’t think that it would be her family getting her into hot water.

“You guys this is wild. An innocent celebration for my moms [sic] milestone 60th birthday has turned into an absurd political statement, which was not the intention,” Sweeney tweeted. “Please stop making assumptions.”

Since Sweeney made the statement about her brother’s photos, fans have been calling for her to cut off her family and renounce white supremacy, which is a situation that no PR practitioner ever wants to find their clients in.

Rae’s and Sweeney’s recent controversies aren’t isolated events, since Rae has been the center of controversy frequently and Sweeney has recently come under fire for other controversies, as well. These examples show how public relations practitioners must account for more than just the stars they represent; the stars’ families may likely stir the pot, too.

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