Tagwa Shammet, Contributing Writer
When someone asks who your favorite celebrity is, it probably doesn’t take much thought for you to answer. But if someone asks who your favorite politician or activist is, you’d be stumped.
Celebrities are easily recognizable. People can identify Justin Bieber or one of the Kardashians, yet struggle to point out Angela Davis or Cory Booker. People care more about what a celebrity is wearing than the constant injustices happening around us.
American culture has normalized obsessing over celebrities. A fan of a celebrity is much more willing to do something if said celebrity endorses it. If a politician, however, were to make the same request, that person may not feel as motivated to do it.
Take Kylie Jenner for example: if she told fans to purchase her new lip kit, fans would rush to their nearest makeup provider to buy it. However, when Bernie Sanders begged the younger generation to vote in the 2016 presidential election, only 31% of the eligible population, ages 18-29, actually went out to vote. That being said, celebrities of high status should have a sense of obligation to use their fame to promote and voice the injustices of this society — the same society that praises them.
Actor Chris Evans — primarily known for his role as Marvel’s Captain America — did not renew his contract with Marvel after filming the fourth movie in the “Avengers” franchise and has no current plans to return. Evans is one of many actors focusing on political tensions — such as the Trump presidency and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Evans is known for using Twitter as a platform for his political and social beliefs. A recent tweet highlighted his involvement with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) March 22, 2019
Evans also has no issue displaying his distaste for the current administration. In tweets from 2016, he praised Hillary Clinton and compared Trump to a fifth grader. Celebrities should take notes from Chris Evans.
I could sit here and type my heart out about how it’s quite disturbing and disheartening to know many people care more about TV personalities and social media gurus. Instead, I’ll let this be a call to celebrities to use their privilege and stardom as a rostrum to speak for people being crushed by societal norms, bring awareness to the impending destruction of climate change and the endless violence and hate plaguing the planet.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Twitter and it is flooded with celebrity scandal instead of real-world issues. Amid some Kardashian drama, someone quoted one of Khloé Kardashian’s tweets, saying, “In more important news, Muslims in China are being held in concentration camps, Kashmiris are being killed by the Indian army and there is a famine in Yemen.”
If Khloé Kardashian tweeted about these conflicts rather than her problems with Jordyn Woods, those Muslims, Kashmiris and Yeminis would have gotten some much-needed attention. Young Americans get their news from reality TV stars — and that’s not a bad thing, if these celebrities take advantage of the platform they have.
I’m not saying celebrities need to eat, sleep and breathe activism. Unlike Alex Proud, a Telegraph writer who argues celebrity opinions on “subjects that really matter” shouldn’t be regarded, I encourage celebrities to talk about these issues.
“It wasn’t always this way. Back in Hollywood’s golden age, we had love at a distance,” Proud said about how celebrities never used to share their opinions.
This “love at a distance” meant actors and actresses understood their job was simply to act, not provide input on real-world issues. But it isn’t the 1950s anymore — society has evolved, so we should allow and encourage celebrities to use their platforms to further their social and political viewpoints.
“Celebrities who people feel positively toward are able to influence what people think about specific political issues,” said author David J. Jackson of Bowling Green State University in an interview with PsyPost.
If our elected officials — who, according to Proud, are the people qualified to speak on political topics — don’t get as much attention as celebrities, they cannot educate the public as well as they should. Celebrities should use their fame and stardom to account for this discrepancy and inform their fans.
The score of issues brought by the current political climate cannot be solved without the advocacy of all key players and everyone’s education. The power of fame is undeniable and should be utilized by everyone privileged enough to have it.