With 2016 being one of the most politically divisible times we have encountered in recent years, everyone seemed to have an opinion on Brexit and Trump. Celebrities were coming out to speak on their political views and endorsing certain viewpoints. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but is it a celebrity’s place to speak publically about political issues?
The always-controversial Kanye West spoke out at his concert recently saying he would have voted for Trump if he had have voted, adding that people needed to stop focusing on racism. These two comments made Twitter go wild. The fact that Kanye did not vote at all should be enough for people to ignore his latest cry for attention. However, there are so many fans who idolise Kanye and other celebrities and certainly take their word as gospel.
Is this the danger behind celebrities endorsing a certain political view? Fans that won’t do any research and blindly follow their idol’s words? I would hope that this not the case, however one can never be certain. There was that awful viral trend “Cut for Bieber” in 2013, where fans self-harmed to protest Justin Bieber’s drug use and “Cut for Zayn” when he left One Direction. This just shows the lengths that some fans will go to for their so-called “support” for their favourite celebrities.
On the other side of this are those who think celebrities endorsing something lessens its cause. A lot of people jeered at celebrities like Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Jay Z when they publicly supported Hillary Clinton. People felt that she pulled in these celebrities because she wasn’t able to get the votes without their help. It also could have alienated conservative voters, as they did not see it as “appropriate” to use star power to win a presidential campaign.
Can celebrity endorsements do more harm than good? Should Hillary have just gone out on her own without her well-known endorsers? If a certain celebrity speaks out publicly on a divisive issue, does that make people more likely to listen or to ignore that issue?
For example, if Kim Kardashian speaks about gun violence (a topic that she has been vocal about), will that bring attention towards the issue or will it simply turn attention to her? If you hate Kim Kardashian, are you more or less likely to support gun control? Or would you roll your eyes and say that she was just doing it to get attention? Will a celebrity’s presence distract from what they are trying to support and bring to the forefront?
There are so many questions surrounding this topic and none which will be answered right away. However, if a celebrity speaks out about a topical issue, one thing is certain – it will be reported on and it will raise awareness to the topic. The UN have had so many celebrity ambassadors, such as Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, so clearly there is some benefit in having high profile names involved in bringing issues to light. No matter what your stance is on celebrities and their views, it does not seem like they are going to stop talking about the issues that the world is facing. Whether they are doing it to build their own profile or not, they are still speaking about issues that need to be addressed.