Whether or not we want to admit it, celebrities have a universal influence.
We live in a world where an Instagram post about fitness tea can spark endless conversation, but there are issues – actual issues – that celebrities can and should be talking about. With platforms as massive as what some stars have, it seems a waste for them not to use their platforms to talk about topics that really matter.
While many may argue that putting too much stock in anything celebrities say is dangerous we have to look at the facts.
In recent news, singer Taylor Swift took to Instagram to announce her stance on politics. In the past, Swift has remained silent when it comes to politics – and while many people believe that her silence is the right move, Swift’s announcement of support for Democratic candidates and encouragement of her fans to vote has caused a surge in voter registration an article at CNBC reports, over 50,000 people have registered to vote in the 18-24 demographic that Swift has such a tight grip on.
Taylor Swift is followed by 112 million people on Instagram. That’s a lot of influence for Swift to have. So, doesn’t it make sense she uses her massive platform to help make a change?
Why now? Some may wonder. Could it be to dethrone Trump? Is Swift’s pledge of allegiance to the Left a direct dig at the president? Why didn’t Swift make a call for action in 2016 when she so notoriously kept quiet about her choice of candidate for president?
Truthfully, it doesn’t matter. Swift is using her voice now and people are hearing her.
If one post from Taylor Swift urging people to register to vote can set 50,000 people’s pants on fire and get them registered, doesn’t it seem like more celebrities ought to be speaking out on the issues?
Celebrities like Swift, Beyoncé, Ellen DeGeneres or Lady Gaga have huge fan bases – on Twitter alone, Lady Gaga has the attention of 77.6 million people.
That’s 77.6 million people who are potentially reading everything Gaga has to say. It may seem insane, and perhaps it is, but the fact of the matter is that to those 77.6 million individuals following the pop star and actress what she has to say means something to these people and in the past, Lady Gaga has used her audience to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ issues as well as shining light on sexual assault.
People care what Gaga has to say and when someone with her acclaim posts about something it gets seen.
It must be admitted that celebrities have the influence to make a change.
In the last year, we’ve seen so many social movements begin. #TimesUp and #MeToo are two movements started by celebrities that have helped give a voice to so many women and men who have dealt first hand with sexual assault.
Colin Kaepernick used his platform to shine a light on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Saying in an interview that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Kim Kardashian-West used her influence to help get a woman out of jail by using her social media status to get the president’s attention to help him overturn the woman’s life sentence.
So why aren’t more celebrities taking a stand, especially when there are issues that seem to have a direct link to them?
In 2016, after the tragedy at Pulse Night Club, Selena Gomez came under fire for not speaking out in regard to LGBTQ+ equality or gun reform but had a lot to say about the feud between Taylor Swift and Kanye West.
Gomez’s Tweet read, “There are more important things to talk about… Why can’t people use their voice for something that f**king matters?”
Fans then took to Twitter, calling out Gomez’s hypocrisy. How could she say people needed to talk about issues that matter when she herself – and at the time Swift too – had been silent on issues regarding police brutality or black lives matter?
As a rebuttal, Gomez Tweeted, “Oh […] so if I hashtag something I save lives? No, I could give two f—s about ‘sides.’ You don’t know what I do.”
The woman makes a point. Is a hashtag equivalent to tangible change?
According to NPR, as of 2016 the hashtag Black Lives Matter was tweeted 41 million times – which means that the social awareness for the subject was massive.
And that’s the thing: if people are talking about the issues change is just a step away. If people begin talking about the wrongs of the world, if people become aware, they can do something – and if it takes a tweet from Britney Spears to get people talking, what’s wrong with that?
What we are slowly learning is that celebrities can create change. And we should let them.
Ashton Kutcher is an advocate for ending child sex trafficking, even going as far as to begin his own non-profit called THORN in hopes of bringing an end to this crime. Yet in the past has faced scrutiny for speaking out about this issue on the grounds that’s he’s just a celebrity, but he’s also a human being. He cares. Are we so cynical that we believe that just because someone is famous that they can’t have an opinion on the issues?
And yes, while some celebrities like Kanye West are very vocal about some issues – critics are right to be wary about listening to him. Not every call to action is a positive one, this is true, but there’s no denying his influence. West is constantly helping shine a light on whatever agenda Trump and Company are supporting, and because this conversation is being had – even if the majority of feedback is negative, people are aware of what he wants them to be aware of.
But when West speaks ignorantly it can spark a conversation in the opposition. The entire goal of social media is to help spread ideas and start conversations between different groups and celebrities are more than entitled to be a part of the conversation.
When we look at the reach that these celebrities have it doesn’t make sense to view their stances as unnecessary. If what they’re saying can have meaning to even one person they are using their influence to do something – something beyond selling tickets to movies or encouraging us to purchase their merchandise.
We are the ones who put celebrities on pedestals. If we don’t want to hear what they have to say, that’s up to us, but it is up to them to recognize that they have the public’s attention. They have voices that millions and millions of people across the globe want to listen to.
If Taylor Swift telling people to vote can have the repercussions that it has, there’s no telling what greater impact celebrities can make on the world should the take their spotlight and shine it on something that matters.