Selena Gomez’s Candid Speech at the American Music Awards Celebrated More Than One Kind of Victory – E! Online

 In Entertainment
It was a long, hard-fought battle, but Selena Gomez showed up and won the night at the 2016 American Music Awards.

The actress and pop star (and social media tastemaker, fashionista, paparazzi magnet, etc.) made her first public appearance in two and a half months Sunday after a self-imposed break from the spotlight, and what she said on stage indicated that no longer will she be content to be your average pop princess.

Thanks to social media, in the last couple of years we’ve seen an increase in just how frank some celebrities are willing to get about their own struggles, their honesty alternately celebrated or chewed up and spit out, depending on who’s lurking online at any given time. No admission is without its backlash, as the likes of Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, the members of Fifth Harmonyand other young stars who have an intense give and take with their fans have realized.

But it was impossible to not appreciate what Selena Gomez had to offer last night in her brief but brutally honest speech at the AMAs, because she spoke not only her truth, but the truth. Look elsewhere if you want to be B.S.’d into thinking the abyss isn’t real and lurking dangerously close to some of the most visible people on the planet.

“In 2014, this stage was actually the first time that I was authentically 100 percent honest with all of you,” Gomez began, referring to her gut-punch of a performance of “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” a thinly veiled ode to her seemingly never-ending breakup with Justin Bieber (who performed remotely last night from Italy, so he couldn’t be in a seat to watch his ex’s win for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist).

She continued, “I think it’s safe to say most of you know my life whether I liked it or not. And I had to stop. Because I had everything—and I was absolutely broken inside. I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.

“I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she patted her heart. “I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore. All I can say is I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to share what I love every day with people that I love. And I have to say thank you so much to my fans, because you guys are so damn loyal, and I don’t know what I did to deserve you.

“But if you are broken, you do not have to stay broken. And if that’s anything, whether you respect me or not, that’s one thing you should know about me is, I care about people. And thank you so much for this, this is for you.”

Selena Gomez, AMAs, 2016 American Music Awards

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

And with that, Selena ascended to the ranks of the Demis and Lady Gagas of the world who have made their pain available to their fans—like, really, and not just via catchy song lyrics—by not insisting that everything’s OK after a glossed-over hiccup.

“Broken” is a strong word, and to admit to that in front of millions of people… Even if it’s an after-the-fact admission, it takes guts.

So much about celebrity is branding—there are too many celebs and too many ways to become famous nowadays to allow for everyone to be judged by talent alone—and it can be a risk to add “emotionally vulnerable” to the overall perception of one’s persona.

But being able and willing to show that vulnerability can also be endearing to fans, a way to further connect with them in a world where it’s increasingly difficult to form meaningful connections—and yet easier at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Two people can meet at any given time despite being physically across the world from each other—and yet who knows how meaningful any communication truly is when it never gets to transcend the confines of the Internet.

An accidental benefit of the glut of online communication, however, is that people are more skeptical than ever, which makes it harder for celebs to get away with being phony if they choose to put themselves out there. If a celebrity has a social media presence, it can be difficult to switch seamlessly from levity to self-promotion to seriousness and back around again, and there’s always a faction chomping at the bit to remind others (anyone, really, let alone famous people) to stay in their lane.

And we’ve realized—especially this past calendar year, in 2016—that there is no star whose pedestal is too high, who’s untouchable by the unprecedentedly high yet oxymoronically low standards of today.

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