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Celebrities should stay out of politics

Posted on 11.08.2017

NO: Celebrities have a long history of commenting on politics and social issues, from songs about the labor movement by Pete Seeger to entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr. speaking out in support of civil rights to celebrities like Lady Gaga supporting issues like LGBTQ rights. But my problem comes when celebrities act like it is their job to shout their political beliefs from the rooftops.

Everyone has a right to speak freely, and as a journalist I value that as much as anyone. But that doesn’t mean that all opinions are equal and should be believed and accepted without question.

Celebrities already seem to hold a magical fascination to people. Many U.S. citizens wish they could be a rock star, an actor, a comedian, a football player, a New York Times bestselling author or a reality TV star. The reason some of these people are famous even seems to be a mystery, (take the Kardasians for example). But one thing is for certain, they didn’t
become famous for their involvement in the government. And just because they have something to say does not mean that they know what they’re talking about.

While I will give credit to the
celebrities who do their research and talk about things they know, many of those who comment are just saying what they feel or what they wish were true because it helps get their point across. While speaking at Texas A&M in 2013, Danny Glover said, “The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect — for settlers to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans,” according to a Washington Times  article. Although much debate still does surround the Second Amendment, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1789. At that time, the early Americans were more worried about being able to fight against British soldiers and creating a new country.

Glover’s comment isn’t the only one that doesn’t come from fact. It is common to hear celebrities make blatantly incorrect, inaccurate or poorly researched comments about every issue under the sun.

Many celebrities are also out of touch with the issues they are talking about and the people they are trying to influence. According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in the U.S. in 2015 was $56,516. Dwayne Johnson made $65 million, and Beyoncé made $105 million in 2016, according to forbes.com.  The difference is so large that many of the issues that matter to them may not or should not be the same as those that matter to average Americans.

While some issues such as gun rights, abortion, legalization of marijuana and other social issues may still be relevant to them, things such as taxes and healthcare do not have as much of an effect in their day-to-day lives. For the 2017 Met Gala, Gigi Hadid spent $2,000 on just her nails, according to an article from fortune.com, an amount some people would work months to earn. I’m curious as to why regular, working, class people place so much value in celebrities’ words when they are so out of touch.

Not only are they out of touch in terms of money, but they also do not work regular jobs. I do not claim that it’s easy to be an actor, musician, author or athlete, but it’s not the same as working in a factory,  school, office, hospital or construction site. I think what celebrities do in their daily lives does not have as much effect on the daily lives of people, or at least it shouldn’t.

Celebrities also seem to go out of their way, acting like it’s their main job, to comment on politics. A prime example of this is when Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for a lifetime of notable work at the 2017 Golden Globes, and took the time she had for an acceptance or thank you speech to rant about Donald Trump for six minutes.

While I do agree with some of Streep’s points, that was not the time for her to make them. She was being honored for her work as an actress, not a politician or political commentator. She, like many other celebrities went out of her way to change the focus to political issues.

Some even make maliciously unnecessary comments, like a tweet from J.K. Rowling that referred to an article about Trump being compared to Lord Voldemort. According to cosmopolitan.com, she said, “How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad.” Voldemort was a hateful, murderous character who only wanted one thing: to rule to the wizarding world. While Trump may be hateful, he is nowhere near as bad as a character who is known for trying to kill a baby.

Often times celebrities are also hypocritical. Take Leonardo DiCaprio for example, who’s very well known for speaking out about climate change but still owns and flies around in his own private jet, burning the fossil fuels that he’s so concerned about.

Many other celebrities who have played gun-toting action heroes have spoken out against gun rights, which seems hypocritical to me. By playing that character, they perpetuate that culture and interest for the fans. This is  common and another reason why I think celebrities need to keep more of their political beliefs to themselves, or at the very least focus on their jobs not what they wish their jobs were.

I don’t see celebrities stopping the commentary any time soon, so it is up to us, the non famous, to do research on the things they say and take everything with a grain of salt. Everyone has the right to their opinion and to voice that opinion, but celebrities should be less forthcoming, comment on what they know and focus more on what they are paid to do.

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