Celebrities often use the awards shows such as the Oscars and the Grammys to make political statements. Is it important for actors, athletes, musical artists and other public figures to address important public policy topics? Or should they limit their comments to the industries in which they work?
Here are three opinions from students in a Media and Democracy course at St. Bonaventure University.
Celebrities serve as a source of hope and motivation for their fans, earning followings from various sectors such as acting, athletics or music. Everyday people (me and you) idolize these figures, loving the way they perform their craft as it tailors to our interests. However, fame is gained through entertainment and being famous does not earn anybody authority in terms of public issues.
The beauty of today’s society can be partially attributed to the ability to freely speak without any fear of being suppressed. I do not propose that celebrities should not be allowed to express their opinions on public issues. However, their opinions must not be trusted to the same degree as a news outlet or expert.
If we fail to realize this critical fact, the especially large audiences of celebrities can be quickly polarized on public issues, without proper education or awareness. This phenomenon can be seen by simply opening Twitter and viewing celebrity tweets and their replies. For example, a music artist, Nicki Minaj, once tweeted against the COVID-19 vaccine, citing her friend’s side effects, where “… his testicles became swollen.” This tweet received 147,200 likes and 43,100 replies.
The love we have for celebrities cannot be used to blindly follow public policy opinions that are poorly supported or researched, otherwise tweets like the one mentioned above can misinform massive audiences.
Throughout the past few years, celebrities have taken a more involved stance on political issues. Whether it is the evolution of politics into what it is today, the internal feelings of celebrities or big companies influencing them to do so, I don’t know.
Some everyday citizens might believe celebrities have no business pushing their political views on their followers; some might believe political involvement by celebrities is good and brings everyday citizens closer to what is going in their country.
The 2022 Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, is one of America’s biggest celebrity award shows and occurred last Sunday. Political voice came up several times throughout the ceremony. It bothered some and didn’t bother others.
Agree with me or not, I believe politics brought up by famous individuals should be very minuscule. A lot of these celebrities are Californian leftists. There is a very small majority of celebrities who are right wing.
Because of celebrities’ large followings, followers take the word of their favorite celebrities over formulating their own opinions. In this country, every citizen has freedom of speech. The more citizens who educate their own selves and make their own decisions, the better off our country is.
Some might say, “Oh you’re just saying this because you’re right wing and want as little left-wing views as possible.” No, I don’t care what party others are as long as they aren’t fully influenced by these very influential people. Heck, award ceremonies like the Academy Awards get millions of viewers. The last thing we need is everybody getting behind these celebrities and starting a Civil War.
Another example of politics getting too involved in largely viewed events is the NBA. Many might argue politics ruined the NBA. Last year’s NBA Finals was the least watched NBA Finals game on record in 40 years. This was the year when the NBA began to get political. It had 4.5 million viewers, which was 70% fewer than the year before. This is thanks to the association in general but especially to one player, Lebron James.
James was one of the first key athletes who began invoking too much politics into the sport of basketball, a sport many Americans love. Some might argue, viewership fell because of streaming services becoming more popular. However, the NBA stands out extensively in declining viewership compared to other professional sports leagues, like the NFL, NHL, and MLB.
A lot of James’ political takes are very controversial and in fact some are so off knowledgably. Look up his deleted “You’re next” tweet from last April if you need confirmation.
With this upbringing by James came the whole NBA inserting political views into its league. The NBA doesn’t get nearly as much views as it did prior to this debacle, rightfully so. People want to support their favorite celebrities without off putting politics. People get enough politics nowadays through their smartphones.
A lot of political voice came up during the Academy Awards last Sunday; it is up to you to not take the word of celebrities’ solely on their elevated popularity, but to make your own thoughts and opinions.
Do you remember when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem?
The whole country gasped.
Whether you agreed with him or not, Kapernick started discussions across the whole country about police brutality and racial inequality. Celebrities using the attention they hold to make a statement is nothing new and has been an effective tactic for years.
Why not use the mass following you have to voice your opinion? Limiting celebrities to stay neutral on controversial matters wouldn’t benefit anyone.
When actors, athletes and artists voice their opinions, more conversation on the problems facing our country occurs.
When Kanye West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” after Hurricane Katrina left Louisianna in devastation, the amount of attention brought to Black people being falsely accused of looting gained more attention as was needed.
Whether you’re a fan or not, when someone influential makes a statement about a pressing issue or the current state of politics, you’re inclined to think or even start a conversation about what that person said.
More conversation in America is key to breaking the political and social barriers that separate us. The only way to become less divided is to listen to each other.