Here’s Why Celebrities Speaking Out About Politics Actually Matters

By  | 

A photo posted by Emma Watson (@emmawatson) on

It’s only been ten days since President Donald J. Trump took office and already we have seen some scary changes start to take place in our government. Through “executive orders,” which effectively override the Checks and Balances system that our democracy was founded on, President Trump (it literally hurts me to write those words, FYI) has already made a call to begin building a physical wall between the U.S. and Canada (which, P.S., has the dude heard of airplanes? Like, what will this multi-billion dollar wall actually accomplish?), reinstated the “Global Gag Rule” (a.k.a. prohibiting international health care providers that receive funding from the U.S. government from mentioning abortion as an option for unplanned or risky pregnancies), while greatly expanding it so that it’s not only family planning providers affected, but also healthcare workers abroad, working to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

The former Apprentice host also began the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which provides health insurance to around 20 million Americans without putting in place another Health Insurance alternative, and has put through a presidential memorandum that will push forward the creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will carry a great amount of Crude Oil to different parts of the U.S., but also carries a high risk of poisoning the drinking water for many people, particularly the Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. While many celebrities (such as Shailene Woodley and Teen Wolf‘s Max and Charlie Carver) had been protesting the DAPL at the end of last year, President Barack Obama temporarily ceased its construction due to the backlash over the pipeline that occurred.

These executive orders and presidential memorandums are frightening enough, but one that seems to stand in opposition to everything that America stands for is the recent executive order, called colloquially as the “Muslim Ban,” that has prohibited all people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.A., including refugees, even if they had prior approval to seek asylum in our nation. Despite the fact that the order is “temporary” (but currently indefinite), while more extensive refugee screening processes are put in place (the U.S. already has one of the toughest screening processes for refugees as it is, BTW), it was reported that a refugee had tried committing suicide in an airport instead of being deported back to her home country. This is an urgent matter. National protesting at airports across America broke out from people who realize that prohibiting people from coming to our country based on their religious beliefs, when our country was founded by people escaping religious persecution, is hypocritical at best.

After the Muslim Ban was reported, several celebrities began to speak up about their opposition to the new executive actions:

Many celebrities, like Cole Sprouse, also called out stars who decided to choose silence over activism, in fear of hurting their status and losing fans.

A lot of people think that it seems stupid and pointless for celebrities to speak up about politics, considering they have a great amount of privilege and little to no experience in government. Then again, look at who our President is: the host of a reality TV show, born into wealth, who has little to no experience in government before being elected to hold the highest position in our democracy.

We also may not see it, but celebrity endorsements are already considered to be of high value in our society. Brands like ProActive and Subway Sandwiches pay BIG BUCKS to get people like Katy Perry and Michael Phelps to say that they use their products, realizing that celebrities do have an influence in the choices that Americans make nowadays. Jennifer Aniston was paid two million dollars for her Smartwater commercials, and if that seems like a lot, David Beckham was paid 160 million dollars for an Adidas campaign. That should mean that simply having the soccer player in a commercial would make the company over 160 million dollars.

Whether we actively recognize it or not, we already know that famous voices matter in shifting public opinions. Isn’t that kind of the whole reason why we’re constantly bashing on “Taylor Swift Feminism?” Her desire to use girl-power and female empowerment as a tool to serve her personal needs and desires, while refusing to use her “feminist” voice when it actually matters (i.e. her deafening silence when it came to the first serious female presidential candidate versus a man who had been accused of sexual assault) is an indicator that “feminism” is her brand but not what she stands for.

They say that during the 2008 Presidential campaign for Obama, Oprah Winfrey‘s endorsement may have garnished the first black president an extra one million votes, because people respect Oprah and appreciate her opinion. For people who just “don’t know that much about politics” (as some of my Facebook friends said just weeks before the election while still deciding who to vote for), a celeb endorsement, as shallow as it may seem to some, can be the tipping point and actually make a difference.

Another thing to realize is that MOST celebrities aren’t just famous for being famous; they’re famous for making art: acting and playing music. Since we often use art to express our thoughts and opinions regarding the world around us, these famous people are already using the entertainment industry as a tool to support their viewpoints. Look at the Oscar-nominated film, Hidden Figures, for example. This is a film that shows us the way that women of color have been ignored by our history, how their victories have been overshadowed and often the credit that is rightfully theirs is given to other people. The actors in the film, like Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer, chose to be a part of that movie to push their “political agenda:” a feminist and anti-racism narrative. And, let’s face it, it worked. Audiences, myself included, have been wowed that such an inspiring story has somehow been ignored for decades by the people *cough* white men *cough* who write our history textbooks.

Even if you’re not going to blindly follow whomever Beyonce throws her political support to, at the very least it will bring attention to the issues at hand and hopefully encourage her loyal fans to do a little bit of research of their own. So, while I, personally, will not necessarily be casting my next vote for whoever Queen Bey stands behind in 2020 (particularly not if Kanye West was serious about running for Prez), there’s a good chance that I’ll look a little deeper into a candidate if a famous woman who I feel like is usually aligned with my political beliefs has faith that a certain person will stand up and fight for the beliefs that I hold.
A lot of celebrities are not fans of Taylor Swift’s version of feminism. See here: