“Celebs hurt cause badly.”
Sound familiar? Maybe not. You may have read these words and skimmed right over them, without a second thought given. You may have never even read them at all. Of the many, many controversial things Donald Trump has said, these four words are not among the most contentious. They’re not outrageous. They’re not entirely offensive. They’re neither well put nor terribly said. They’re simple- highly forgettable even.
Yet, these four words have resonated with me for the past few weeks.
Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes. David Harbour at the SAG awards. Madonna at the Women’s March on Washington. Asghar Farhadi’s absence from the Oscars. Celebrities and politics. Lately, the two have likely filled your timelines, intermingled and inseparable. And to many, this is an issue. Many people seem to feel that celebrities should stay out of politics- that they should just stick to entertaining us.
If you happen to believe that celebrities should stay out of politics, you are certainly entitled to that belief. But I’d like you to remember one thing:
Celebrities are people.
Not only are they entitled to their own opinions, but it’s also their right and responsibility to care about the state of affairs in our country. And if they’d like to use the platforms they have to stand up for their beliefs, the first amendment allows them to do so. There’s no denying that it’s a weird time in our country, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in America that doesn’t have something to say about the current state of affairs. And celebrities certainly aren’t excluded from this narrative. By standing up for what they believe in, they’re not hurting these various causes, they’re shining a spotlight on them.
To say that celebrities can’t talk about politics, while we are constantly dissecting and critiquing every aspect of their careers, their appearance, their relationships and every other facet of their lives is honestly, total bullshit. The arbitrary stories of celebrities’ professional and personal lives take up hours on our TV’s and fill up the pages of our favorite magazines, yet we say they can’t talk about things that actually matter.
At what level of fame does it become unacceptable to talk about important issues? Many make the argument that celebrities can’t possibly understand the lives of the less fortunate they speak up for because of their income. But if that’s the case, why are we letting politicians with similar earnings run our country? If you delve a little deeper, you may see that a lot of celebrities are using their fame and fortune to positively impact the lives of those not living in their Hollywood level tax brackets. Look at Chance the Rapper donating $1 million to Chicago public schools, or Ashton Kutcher working to combat human trafficking. Look at Matt Damon, who helped create a charity aimed at providing countries around the world with access to clean, safe water.
But maybe the real problem people have isn’t that celebrities voice their opinions on political matters, but instead that those opinions don’t match up with their own. It’s easy to simply brush off celebrities with opposing views with laments like “they don’t know what they’re talking about,” or “they should stick to what their scripts.”
Sure, not every celebrity speech about politics is going to be groundbreaking and meaningful. But neither are all of those Facebook rants from your distant family members and classmates you haven’t talked to since your 10th grade English class. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach both with an open mind. By dismissing the opinions of others just because of their careers or level of fame, we’re only limiting ourselves. It’s important to truly understand every side of an argument, even if the other side seems completely incomprehensible to you, to truly cement your own opinions and beliefs.
So maybe next time you find yourself searching for the mute button when a celebrity starts to talk about policy, hear them out. Because who knows, they could be our next president.