Should celebrities use their platform to stand up about social issues, whether they’re informed or not?
Benjamin Jacobs // Contributor
Celebrities have always been held to a high standard regarding what they say. So when mainstream celebrities start speaking up about certain issues, suddenly, it would seem that everyone starts to care about it. However, this requires research. If celebrities start nose-diving into an issue with little to no knowledge about it at all, it can come off as uneducated or headache inducing. Conversely, when celebrities start refusing to speak up, they may still get backlash, despite the fact that it’s their platform.
First of all, it is important to know that celebrities are normally put on a pedestal, and when something gets their attention, it will become a bigger issue that people will talk about. So when a big celebrity starts to address a big social issue like police brutality and African American communities, people start to pay more attention to it, especially when their opinions are well informed. However, when celebrities jump in blind with the issue it can come off as insensitive. For example, probably the most well-known controversy involving a celebrity trying to stand up for what they believe in would be Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, with his “take a knee” movement. Some people said he was doing a good thing, while others saw it as disrespectful to veterans. With all things considered, if celebrities think there is an issue that needs to be addressed, then they should have the right to do so, as long as it doesn’t come off as forced.
However, when celebrities never speak up about an issue, they get backlash for it too. It’s their platform, they can choose how they use it as long as it does not come at the expense of others. Even so, celebrities also end up getting bashed for using their platform to criticize a social movement, whether it is well intentioned or not. For example, Henry Cavill criticized the #MeToo movement by admitting he’s scared of dating anyone out of fear of false rape allegations. The aftermath of the comment focused on the “rapist” part of the quote, making people assume the worst, and he consequently faced some backlash. Of course, it is perfectly natural for people to be upset over a well-meaning movement facing criticism, but considering how powerful the MeToo movement has become in the mainstream media, it is also important to talk about its flaws to help improve it.
Another example is Taylor Swift. Last November, the Washington Post talked about Swift getting backlash after saying that modern feminism is like an echo chamber, pretending to fight for all women, but instead only being the spokesperson of women who agree with them. This is obviously something that should be acknowledged. After all, if a movement wants to be accepted by the general public, the flaws should be acknowledged, rather than trying to silence those who call them out for it. Celebrities should be allowed to express their thoughts on social justice movements, regardless of the general public’s feelings about it. If celebrities want to talk about social issues, then they can. After all, every person is entitled to use their platform as they see fit.