Celebrity culture rules the Western world, but what happens when it begins to seep into politics too?
In a world where celebrities are placed on a shelf to be watched and scrutinized, we hand them the crown of importance. With that crown comes influence, and sooner or later, they are telling us what to wear, buy and do. But what happens when this crown begins to reign over politics?
Whether we agree with the correlation of celebrities and politics, it’s a facet of our current culture, and we must understand how to deal with these two opposing yet intertwined elements.
Should celebrities even have a say in politics?
The easy answer is, yes. Even with their fame and glory, celebrities are people too. While we place them on pedestals, they should be able to freely express their own political opinions. Just like it is our right to voice our red or blue views, it is their right too.
The complex answer weighs into the importance of responsibility, as these big names have masses of people watching their every move. Take Taylor Swift, for example.
Swift has 122 million Instagram followers and 84.8 million Twitter followers. If she goes out for a walk, people notice. If she goes grocery shopping, it’s a phenomenon. If she posts something political, the internet breaks.
Almost a year ago, that is exactly what happened. Swift broke her political silence and publicly supported Phil Bredsen and Jim Cooper in the midterm elections. This had everyone talking, including President Donald Trump, as he claimed to like Swift’s music 25 percent less after her post.
In the same message, Swift encouraged her fan base to register to vote, and less than 48 hours later, “more than 169,000 new people had registered on the site to vote,” according to The Washington Post.
One social media post influenced at least 169,000 individuals (and don’t forget about Trump). As everyday people, we don’t have this kind of pull. If we publish a belief on Facebook, all we have to worry about is Jane Doe writing a nasty comment back. As a star, massive effects can spawn from voicing a perspective.
These A-listers can voice their angles but must understand that an abundance of individuals will be influenced. And if the celebrity has done their research and truly believes in the agenda they are pushing forward, then is there really any harm? Or are we just displeased with their standpoint?
How do we decipher between our own thoughts and what we are being fed?
Going back to Swift, as she is a current topic of conversation with her “most politically engaged body of music yet,” we can see that she’s begun integrating politics into her music.
“Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” a song off of “Lover,” was written after the midterm elections. It depicts the need for individuals to “huddle up under the bleachers and figure out a plan to make things better,” according to Swift. This insinuates the current political landscape is not well-founded.
There is nothing wrong with what Swift has to say, but we must reach our own, individual conclusion by separating ourselves from these top dogs.
I am an avid lover of Swift, but if I take everything she says and regard it as the definitive of truth, then I’m not critically thinking about such topics. Instead of immediately accepting or rejecting stances made by celebrities we either admire or despise, we must evaluate what they are saying and use it as another component to make our own decisions.
As discussed before, celebrities are simply people, so why should their views be taken without questioning? They are entertainers, a-listers and big names, but that doesn’t credit their opinion with instant validation.
Do we put too much pressure on them to be involved?
Our current climate includes the need for everyone to have a stance on everything. We see this depicted within those around us, within businesses and even within notable names.
Contradictory to cut-throat sides, we see those individuals, businesses and notable names that aren’t as vocal. And of course, we pry. We dig for clues as to what their stance could be and we piece together possible false narratives –– because we need to know where they stand on the political spectrum.
But do we actually need to know?
As talked about before, celebrities need to handle their platforms with responsibility, and if they aren’t set or ready to voice their opinions, it can do more damage than good.
After all, these personalities are actors, musicians, influencers and the list goes on –– but for the most part, they’re not political figures. When did having a public political stance become a part of the celebrity job description? Especially when the two don’t necessarily correlate.
If a celebrity has a strong, responsible view and wants to utilize their platform to spread the message, then that’s more than okay. But pressuring celebrities to fess up to a political stance is not necessary.