The concept of celebrity culture as a whole is pretty terrible, honestly. I cannot begin to imagine a world or a time where I took what my favorite celebrity said with complete truth, or agreed with everything they said completely. To a certain extent, a lot of our politics today seem to center around entertainment, from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explaining Twitch to other members of Congress, to a literal former reality star being the current president. Idol worship is a dangerous thing, and it’s not fair to put someone up on a pedestal. After all, they’re human too, even if you like them to a (potentially) unhealthy degree. Unfortunately, due to the fact that they are regular people, that does mean that they have opinions, especially when it comes to politics.
Whenever a celebrity, be they an actor, singer, director, etc., shares an opinion, there is always a question of “should they be getting involved in this?” The logic seems to be that people need a reprieve from political issues and tensions, and will often retreat into their chosen medium as a way to relax. Celebrities publicly speaking out about political matters ruins these things for their fans, essentially. While it is completely valid to want to take a breather from the political sphere (God knows how draining it is now), I have to repeat this shocking revelation; celebrities do, in fact, count as people.
Famous folks being involved in politics is so common at this point; it’s come to be expected from certain celebrities. Fans of Chrissy Tiegan should be familiar with her snarky Twitter posts dunking on President Donald Trump, to the point where she is almost known for it. Beyoncé’s performances featuring Black women and highlighting the Black struggle was also a point of controversy, especially when she performed at the Super Bowl in 2016 paying homage to the Black Panthers. This hits especially hard, as this was the year football star Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality in America, and lost his job over it.
Football fans thought they wouldn’t have a political message the next year when Lady Gaga performed in 2017, until her lyrics for “Born This Way” included the LGBTQIA+ community, singing “No matter gay, straight or bi/transgender, lesbian. . .” in front of millions — because, yes, even supporting the queer community is considered political. Singers being politically active seems to be a trend, and not necessarily a new one — Taylor Swift, after years of being silent beyond very vague ‘girl power’ songs, started speaking up in 2018, and has recently endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for the 2020 election. With celebrities getting directly involved in politics, actor Chris Evans would also post critiques of right-wing politicians on his Twitter account, although he recently committed to slowing down on this in order to start his new project “A Starting Point,” a bipartisan website that will allow politicians to talk for two minutes about a variety of topics, meant to educate and ‘unite our increasingly divided electorate.’
Celebrities speaking about inherently political issues is not new. People in a place of privilege protecting marginalized groups, or bringing awareness to certain issues, is textbook allyship. Judy Garland was an avid supporter of civil rights and the LGBTQIA+ community, to the point where members of the gay scene would say they were “friends of Dorothy.” Audrey Hepburn spent her teenage dance career raising money for the Dutch Resistance during World War II. Hell, Marilyn Monroe was a staunch supporter for civil rights, and actively used her privilege to help singer Ella Fitzgerald break racial barriers. Like it or not, celebrities having opinions on things that don’t even necessarily apply to them have always been around.
Being in a position of power means that these figures hold plenty of sway over the public. Not everyone might be able to name their senators, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Taylor Swift in some capacity. Chances are, you’re not always going to agree with something that your favorite actor might say. Chances also are, if you’re pitching a fit over a celebrity saying “Lolllllll no one likes you” to Donald Trump, you’re likely not going to change your opinion any time soon. This is not to say that everything someone who is moderately famous says should be correct 100 percent of the time, or that they’re always going to have a public opinion. Celebrities are obviously able to have an opinion on the world they live in, and can choose how to react to certain news and political climates, but don’t wait for someone famous to form your opinions for you. You’re more than welcome to start your own Twitter flame war, if that were the case.
Featured Photo: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus