Do Celebrities Need Intercultural Training?

Celebrities travel a lot for their jobs.  Actors travel to other countries to film movies and then to promote them after they’ve been released.  Singers and musicians often engage in world tours for their concerts.  Many celebrities who aren’t American citizens relocate to the United States for work, usually in California or New York.  With so much travel across borders, do celebrities need intercultural training?

While a celebrity themselves may not engage in any type of training, it’s probably helpful for someone in their entourage to have knowledge about the country and culture to which they are traveling.  But how much do you really need to know when you’re a celebrity?  Does being a celebrity give you a free pass to commit some cultural faux pas?

Because celebrities have fans in a country, when they visit that country their fans will come out to see them.  In such a situation, the fans probably view the celeb not as their nationality but by their own unique image.  Even if a celeb doesn’t speak the local language, fans will simply be thrilled to be in their presence, even if they don’t understand them or have to communicate through an interpreter.  When a celeb is out and about in a foreign city, whether sightseeing or dining in a restaurant, they aren’t regarded as an ugly American, treated badly because they’re  a foreigner or looked down upon for their choice in food or decision to snap hundreds of photos.  All the quirks of their nationality fade away and are replaced by the perception that they are a unique individual and everything they do reflects that.  If they do something that might otherwise be seen as strange, when they do it, it’s cool.

Of course this doesn’t mean that celebrity is a “get out of jail free” card.  But fame makes people look at you differently, usually taking into account your personality and all your individual traits instead of imposing a stereotype upon you.  Some countries may feel so happy to have a celebrity visit that they will overlook their cultural ignorance and go the extra mile to accommodate them.  Of course, such accommodation may mean that they never encounter the experiences where cultural awareness is invaluable.

So what do you think?  Do celebrities need intercultural training?  Does fame make cultural awareness irrelevant?  Are there any specific examples of famous people who made cultural mistakes that were (or weren’t) overlooked?


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