Even in the midst of a national social movement, a number of celebrities don’t seem to know what the term “using your platform” means. Allow me to explain.
There are many things wrong with the world, which seem to all be of utmost importance right now. We have, of course, the pandemic surrounding COVID-19, but there are many other things going on, too — none of which are much better. California is partially on fire again, femicide is raging through Mexico, the number of Muslim death in China has just surpassed the number of Jewish deaths in the Holocaust, Black lives still matter but police do not care, and so much more. Not a day passes on Twitter without seeing teenagers and young adults try their absolute best to raise awareness about what is going on in their countries or the countries of their friends and followers. Normal people with just enough, or barely enough, resources to take care of themselves fight every day to make other people aware of issues that urgently need to be fixed.
Then, you have celebrities like Tyler Joseph — lead singer and songwriter of one of the most popular bands in the world, Twenty One Pilots — who think now is a great time to make jokes that nobody is laughing at.
On Sept. 9, after months of not tweeting, Joseph posted pictures of himself wearing platform shoes with the caption “you guys keep asking me to use my platforms. feels good to dust these bad boys off” in reference to fans asking him to please spread awareness about at least some of the previous mentioned issues going on in the world. None of his fans were asking him to solve anything. No one who reaches out to their favorite celebrities about “using their platforms” is asking them to donate a ton of their money or only talk about these issues. We are asking for one or two posts that show that they recognize that the world is underwater right now, so that people who follow them who may not know about these issues can find out about them, and possibly contribute to solving them.
I’m not interested in policing celebrities and getting upset when they do not care about global issues. It is their choice to care or not care, even if I personally think that everyone should. However, the thing that bothers me about this particular post is the fact that Joseph probably spent about twenty minutes finding those white platform shoes, putting them on, asking someone to take pictures of him, posing for the camera, and opening Twitter to write out that tweet and attach the photos. Instead, or at least alongside of his joke tweet, he could have taken a maximum of ten seconds to copy and paste the link to one of the many information and resource carrd.co websites, such as this one, which he posted hours later, made surrounding ‘issues in the world’ and attempts to alleviate them however possible. Why would he take the time to make a joke about something serious and, as a result, completely disrespect people who are struggling, instead of doing the bare minimum by copy-and-pasting a link?
He could have done what fellow Twenty One Pilots bandmate Josh Dun did on June 1; he tweeted a link to a Black Lives Matter carrd with a (very bare minimum) note, or letter, reflecting on his privilege as a White man, and his alliance with Black people. It wasn’t much, but it was something, which is a lot more than Joseph has done. I would honestly be less upset right now if Joseph stuck to tweeting nothing at all. At least then it feels less like he’s rubbing his fans’ noses in the fact that he’s doing fine, and other people are not.
To make matters worse, Joseph returned to Twitter two hours later and posted multiple tweets about mental health, ignoring fans who were upset about the “joke” he made. He cited that humor and breaks from social media were things that helped him recenter when his mental health took a drop, as well as how he can “only carry so much because what [he does] care about is so heavy, the thought of adding more on top of it makes [him] want to stop trying,” which did not sit right with me. Because he carries a lot on his shoulder — being a straight, White man, of course — he can’t possibly bear the weight of, police brutality that isn’t directed at him, fires that aren’t burning through his home, violence that isn’t even in his country, other issues that have no physical effect on him at all? Maybe that isn’t what he meant, and, trust me, I know how exhausting it is to consume traumatic content even when it has nothing to do with you, but, in light of his platform joke, these tweets were questionable at best. He topped this spew of mental health and suicide talk off with a tweet that read “this isn’t a notes app moment. i’m doubling down on my platform tweet. it was fantastic.” How on earth he can claim to care about mental health, especially that of his fans, and fail to see how joking about fans begging him to use his platform to help with issues many of them are struggling with is far beyond me. To each their own, I suppose, but he clearly does not actually “respect all the warriors out there fighting for different causes,” considering he mocked all of us with some white platform shoes. Maybe, just maybe, he should use this energy to do something else, like tweet a simple link with information and be done with the issues that he apparently has such a hard time even thinking about.
Frustrating celebrities aside, we should all actively do our research, when we have the time, to stay aware of what troubles are happening across the world right now. One of my favorite carrd.co websites to reference is ‘issues in the world’ that includes information about global issues and ways that we can help, such as donating (with or without money), signing petitions, and more. I hope to see celebrities actually post and care about these issues. I hope to see Joseph take down that tweet and actually apologize (considering that the original tweet is still up, and that his follow-up tweets do not cut it for many fans), because it truly was not appropriate or funny.