Pop Stars Go Public on Politics
Though we might normally think of Hollywood as the center of entertainment, this year’s election has shown that celebrities use their positions in society for far more than just amusement. Many of America’s most prominent entertainers have expressed strong opinions regarding the election candidates.
Los Angeles’s biggest stars, including Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Meryl Streep, rallied for the Democratic Party, though few celebrities expressed such fervent support for the Republicans. Such blatant partisanship calls into question whether celebrities should use their fame and reputation to influence the political views of their supporters, and if this is a reasonable and logical option, considering that they could alienate fans.
In the recent election, celebrities used their authority to attempt to persuade voters into one camp or the other. Their influence manifests itself in videos, ad campaigns and social media, such as Facebook posts and tweets. Many celebrities have even performed at campaign rallies, fundraisers and other political events. Donasia Gray ’18 said, “I feel like some celebrities have a reputation as the voices of some groups of people. If they are in that position, then they should use their platform and position to influence change and a positive difference in the world. The main question is whether you want more money and fame or a bigger positive change in the world.”
A few celebrities, notably Taylor Swift, have refused to partake in the partisan battle. Many fans were frustrated that Swift didn’t use her prominence to get her supporters thinking about the election; however, by avoiding partisanship she also avoided dividing her fanbase. Samantha Phelan ’18 said, “I think it is smart that Swift wants nothing to do with it.” Regardless of whether celebrities expressed their own ideologies, almost every prominent figure employed social media to encourage followers to get out and vote, often explaining the importance of participation in our democracy.
The directness with which celebrities have voiced opinions this election season brings into question whether or not their opinions should be taken into account by their fans. Eddie Martin ’18 said, “We should judge the validity of their topics and what they say, rather than the fact that they’re celebrities. I don’t think we should put them on a pedestal because that’s damaging, and we shouldn’t put their political opinions above everyone else’s.”
One particular media source which consistently took a side this election cycle was Saturday Night Live. The long-running late night show has often expressed partisan views during presidential elections. The show has never been afraid of alienating part of their viewership. However, as Kieran Anderson ’18 points out, “The demographic that watches SNL already supports the views shown by the Trump skits. If the purpose of those skits is to change people’s opinions, or show people a new side of things, it is failing to reach the desired target audience.” Therefore, SNL clearly knows the ideologies of their followers, and produces material in line with the beliefs of people who watch the show.
At the end of the day, celebrities are entitled to their own opinions about what goes on in the world, and these opinions are often publicized due to their popularity. Caitlin Gilroy ’18 said, “I respect people for honoring their opinions and risking their reputation for standing up for political viewpoints. It takes courage for someone with high authority to release their beliefs to the public.”