“A lot of people are saying right now that actors shouldn’t express their opinion when it comes to politics. But the truth is, actors are activists no matter what, because we embody the worth and humanity of all people…”
Kerry Washington opened the 2017 SAG Awards with the statement above and throughout the rest of the night, actors continued to comment on politics. Celebrities have never been afraid to hide their political views, whether addressing them in tweets or award show acceptance speeches, and the number of those who share their standings only grew in 2018.
According to a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll published last month, 28 percent of adults want celebrities to speak up on political issues, using every platform available, while 29 percent say celebrities should stay out of politics. Whether the public wants to hear their opinions or not, celebrities know the potential influence they hold among their fans and audiences.
“A quarter of adults, including 36 percent of Gen Z adults and 33 percent of Democrats, said celebrity opinions on political and social issues are effective in influencing their midterm vote,” Morning Consult said.
Through social media, actors, musicians and other celebrity figures have constant access to a platform of millions of fans who follow their pages. Taylor Swift recently received media attention when she was believed to have caused thousands of young Americans to register to vote shortly after stating her support for two Democratic candidates on Instagram, where she has 112 million followers.
Celebrities should not be stopped or criticized for sharing their political views on their social media accounts or when asked for opinions in interviews.
Award season is already underway, and the current political climate shows no indication that actors and musicians will hold back their voices.
Citizens have a responsibility—a duty—to critique and question their society. Without asking hard questions, our country will not get any better. Just because celebrities are well known and receive a lot of attention does not mean they should be silenced concerning social issues—they have a right to free speech as much as any other American. It becomes problematic, however, when they exploit broadcasted award shows to give a one-minute rant on the state of the country.
When it comes to award shows, I think those in the entertainment industry should stick to showing appreciation and discussing issues related to their own industry. I do not watch the Emmy’s or the Grammy’s to hear every person honored tell me about their political standing.
We watch award shows because we are interested in these people’s work in television, film and music—they do not have jobs in the government, and it is not their job to use a time where they should show gratitude to those who have helped them be successful to comment on the government.
The influence celebrities have on young people is powerful, and while it is admirable for famous people to use their platforms to raise awareness for issues and encourage followers to vote, fans might make important political decisions based solely on a statement made by their favorite actor.
Celebrities using televised award show acceptance speeches to voice political opinions on aspects not relating to the entertainment industry does not promote an informed voting culture. Young Americans should be told to research political issues and get information from news sources, not celebrities.
Like Kerry Washington said, actors are in some ways representatives of all people. But this does not mean we should expect them to constantly be activists or get angry when they share their beliefs. There are appropriate outlets for public figures to voice political opinions, but I do not think award shows are a respectful or appropriate way to try to make a difference.
The Talon welcomes all viewpoints. Realizing there may be an opposing view to today’s editorial, the Talon invites any Oklahoma Christian student to write an opposing editorial that is signed and less than 800 words. For more information on editorial guidelines or to submit an opinion idea, please email Hannah Brewster, the Talon’s opinion editor.