The Daily Illini

In defense of celebrities getting political

Brian Nguyen

Brian Nguyen

By Claire Joyce, Columnist

In the digital age we live in, visibility is power. The more people who see and connect with you, the more power you have. Social media is changing and breaking down the barrier of mystery that celebrities once had — bringing their lives into ours. Whether it be by Instagram photos, tweets or Snapchat stories, celebrities are able to communicate with fans at any time from nearly anywhere.

Celebrities and social media influencers often use their platforms to promote their work, events and even private lives. They show us their houses, their families and their vacations — so why shouldn’t they show us their politics?

On Sept. 27, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh spoke at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington D.C. Kavanaugh is being accused of sexual assault by former high school classmate Christine Blasey Ford, among others.

Just like so many other Americans, celebrities, being humans too, watched and kept up with the controversial hearing. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Gina Rodriguez, Sarah Hyland, Kumail Nanjiani, Questlove and many others all posted on social media about the hearing — showing either support or distaste. On top of this, countless social media influencers also chimed in about the hearing.

Why does this matter? Because people saw it. Thousands of people, if not more. People who were following the political event but also people who would otherwise be uninterested in politics. With the absurdity of much of today’s political universe, many people, especially young people, tune out political outlets to try to escape the chaos of it all.

What’s keeping them in the loop? Celebrities.

We’re used to seeing a celebrity post about a vacation to Saint Lucia or a new car or movie — so when they get political, people listen. This is especially crucial to including young people in politics. Many of us have grown up with social media long enough that we’re almost used to having so much “contact” with celebrities. We have a relationship with them that past generations haven’t experienced. It’s because of this that more and more people see them less as just “faces” and more as people having something to say.

Celebrities invade our everyday lives in more ways than we think. People don’t have to pick up a magazine or turn on a TV show to be connected; all we have to do is turn on our phones. And because of this, we’ve grown to incorporate celebrities into our lives in new ways.

Since the #MeToo movement, which was founded by Tarana Burke and then popularized in Hollywood, celebrity voices in politics are more and more common.

With this evolution comes critics. Some people will argue celebrities should stay out of politics because they are not “qualified” or their involvement is not justified simply because of their notoriety. And yes, I can agree that simply having notoriety doesn’t qualify someone to run for office or hold an official political position. Being a celebrity should never mean someone in this country should stop acting like a participating member of our society.

As cliche as it sounds, celebrities are people too, and just like anyone else, they should be allowed to express their political opinions and views.

Claire is a sophomore in ACES.

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