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Ziel: It’s absurd to say that celebrities shouldn’t get political

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Former Colorado State University President Tony Frank was known among Rams for sending lengthy and politically infused emails. Given that CSU is a public university, Frank was tactfully unapologetic in expressing his views on certain matters such as inclusivity.

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The 2016 United States presidential election in particular aroused the emotions of many people in the realm of politics — and also gave way to stark political polarization. With such a societal phenomenon growing more evident with time, celebrities and public figures take to social media more often to contribute to the discussion. 

Celebrities should use their platform for whatever they deem necessary. However, the public at large views it as a different story. Still, celebrities have the ability to put a loud voice where the significantly less famous typically can’t. It’s for this reason that their voices are integral, even when their views may not align with ours.

A prominent example would be actor Leonardo DiCaprio, perhaps best known for his role in “Titanic.” He frequently takes to social media, interviews and speeches to make his environmental activism known. He created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, that, according to its website, is dedicated to climate resiliency and protecting wildlife and ecosystems.

Other examples include “Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson, who is a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for gender equality and education. The frontman of rock band U2, Bono, is the co-founder of joint organizations ONE and (RED)that campaigns against poverty and the AIDS crisis. “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo has long been politically active, going so far as to campaign for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Kanye West is well known for making his opinions known, such as when he criticized George W. Bush for not supporting black people and when he recently supported the conservative Donald Trump. 

The most important aspect to the advocacy of those in a spotlight is the fact that they are human too.

There are more personalities who make their thoughts known in more subtle ways, such as actor Mark Hamill, who posts memes and various commentary on his Instagram. Musicians also frequently perform at political events. For example, country musician Toby Keith performed at Trump’s inauguration. The list goes on and on.

These are the things that receive criticism in some form of the statement “celebrities shouldn’t get political.” One such comment was seen on DiCaprio’s social media, despite the fact that his biography tells of his activism. But the real question we should be asking is why celebrities should not get political.

The most important aspect to the advocacy of those in a spotlight is the fact that they are human too. People are allowed to state their political views and do so readily, whether or not they are educated enough to make an informed opinion. This sentiment must be extended to public figures as well.

It’s also important to acknowledge the vast influence that famous people can have on others. While there may be some bad opinions, there will be educated opinions that are important.

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Some celebrities may be putting influence where it shouldn’t be, such as with downright immoral views. It can be further argued that a public figure has a duty to make the world a better place with their platform, such as the previous examples of creating charitable organizations.

The debate continues on whether or not celebrities should be able to speak on political issues, but they have a platform and wealth to use. So long as they are mindful of what they say and are careful to remain well-informed, they should by all means use it.

Renee Ziel can be reached at letters@collegian.com or Twitter @reneezwrites.

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About the Contributor
Renee Ziel
Renee Ziel, Night Editor
Renee Ziel is the night editor for The Collegian this fall. With one year of the position under her belt, she is prepared to tackle her last semester at Colorado State University and to place the copy desk in the capable hands of friend and partner-in-production Copy Chief Rachel Baschnagel. Ziel is studying journalism and currently writes for the arts and culture desk, specializing in features and community-based reviews. She has been on the copy desk for over two years and also has experience writing for opinion. Ziel writes novels and poetry in her free time, as her greatest passion is storytelling. If she cannot lovingly craft words to deliver others into the arms of escapism, she turns to being the irreplaceable editing force behind the success of any piece. Being an editor is a tough job with a lot of fact-checking, AP Style memorizations and knowing countless micro English rules, and taking on copy management comes with long nights and little praise (beyond The Collegian’s caring and supportive editorial team). However, being on such a driven, hardworking copy desk is one of Ziel’s greatest achievements thus far — it is, after all, a second home. With that, Ziel aims to finish her college career strong, working with who she believes to be some of the best journalists to grace her lifetime. Renee Ziel can be reached at copy@collegian.com or on Twitter @reneeziel.

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