Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of the Collegian or its editorial board.
Last week, actor and CEO Ashton Kutcher spoke at a Senate of Foreign Relations Committee hearing about the issue of human trafficking and how his company, Thron, works to combat it. It was a deeply moving speech where he details the cruelty of child exploitation around the world and goes in-depth about the progress his company has made towards creating the technology to end human trafficking. Before Kutcher even began this speech, he had to start off by defending why he, a famous actor and celebrity, gets to speak out about this issue and why he even gets to care.
That’s right: we live in a time filled with so much criticism, that celebrities have to defend their right to even care about issues outside their careers.
Celebrities publicly supporting causes and politics should not be seen as a hindrance but as a benefit. They have created and built these platforms for themselves and have every right, if not the responsibility, to use them. According to Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most utilized charity elevator, celebrities not only tend to donate the most, but help raise the most money and awareness towards issues. Celebrities are also allowed to be involved in politics, and many usually are. Kutcher is just one example of a celebrity trying to get policy enacted to support his own important cause. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities out promoting presidential candidates during election season. They are citizens in this country just like us, so everyone needs to stop losing their minds when they show an interest in politics. When will the calls to boycott celebrities, and pretty much anything else that doesn’t support our own personal beliefs, end?
Award season tends to bring out politically charged speeches from celebrities trying to highlight issues dear to them. Meryl Streep’s proactive anti-Trump speech was one of the most talked about moments from this year’s Golden Globes. She asked audience members to support the non-profit committee to protect journalists because, as she says, “we’re going to need them going forward and they’re going to need us to safeguard the truth, and we need to rely on the media to keep the Trump administration honest.” Not only was her career and her great accomplishments as an actress and as a successful woman belittled by Trump’s supporters, President Trump himself even tweeted offenses about the actress calling her “overrated.”
Instead of appreciating when a celebrity uses their fame and platforms to be a voice for a cause or political stance, they face major backlash. They are told to stick to entertainment, or that they don’t know enough outside their ‘Hollywood bubbles.’ While they usually face criticism from anyone who doesn’t agree with their views, right-wing conservatives figures, such as Tomi Lahren, label any celebrity with contrary political or social views as “Hollywood elitists that are out of touch with reality.” I don’t hear them criticizing conservative President Ronald Reagan who used his celebrity status to kickstart his political career or any celebrities with a right-leaning perspective. It is extremely hypocritical to disregard celebrities as such, especially considering President Trump, who they support so wholeheartedly, is also considered a wealthy celebrity with no political experience.
Other examples of highly publicized statements that faced a massive wave of backlash include Beyonce’s political stance on Black Lives Matter and her black empowerment performances, as well as recent demonstrations by many celebrities in reaction to Trump’s presidential election. This also includes Joy Villa wearing pro-Trump ‘Make America great Again’ dress on the red carpet.
If you choose not to support a cause or belief simply because you don’t like the celebrity that supports it, then you are not only extremely shallow, but you are the problem with our culture. You care more about the celebrity than the issues they are supporting. It’s fine if you don’t agree with a celebrity’s political stance or views, but it in no way entitles you to bash on their careers or unrelated achievements.
Even though many celebrities live very different lives than that of the average middle-class citizen, they are still citizens. They are humans with cares and concerns, and they have the ability and resources to make a difference and support their beliefs. Instead of ridiculing them, we should celebrate the ones who use their voices and wealth to promote something other than themselves.