In seeking to separate Benoit’s celebrity and personal personas, some fans find the process easy. Respondent 710 notes: ‘I still remember him as one of the best workers of all time who had mental problems that led to his demise. I can easily separate the man and the wrestler.’ For others, the process is slightly more arduous. Respondent 14, for instance, notes that in working through his grief ‘I try to separate the man and the worker’, with Respondent 25 adding that ‘I’m starting to separate the character of Chris Benoit from the man, but it is still difficult to watch him … you know what he did and that is a hard pill to swallow’. Yet regardless of whether the separation of Benoit’s personas is easy or difficult for the individual, significantly it is a conscious and selective process.
Phillips, T. (2015). Wrestling with grief: fan negotiation of professional/private personas in responses to the Chris Benoit double murder–suicide. Celebrity Studies, 6(1), 69-84.
In this paper, Tom Phillips investigates fans’ short- and long-term responses to celebrated wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder of his wife and child and subsequent suicide. He looks at issues of fannish grief and how it is shaped by official media narratives, as well as whether and how fans make distinctions between the public persona of a celebrity and their private self.