The Dangers of Celebrity Politics
Believe it or not, I decided not to pay that much attention to the Oscars this year. Yes, I know, as someone who is in the film business that comes off as a bit of heresy but, truthfully, I knew it was going to be heavily politics-laden, and I just wasn’t in the mood for that kind of thing. These people are movie makers – when I see them on my screen I want to be entertained. Quite frankly, when it comes to entertainment, politics should stay the heck away from it, and vice-versa.
When I was 16 years old and dreaming of being famous, I always asked myself what kind of a celebrity would I be, were I to become one. As ridiculous as it sounds given the fact that I’m very unlikely – at this point – to become a celebrity, I still think about what kind of one I would make. Would my head grow too big? Would I work to maintain my family relationships as well as those with my closest friends? What kind of a role model would I try to be?
It’s the role model thing that I think most about. It’s not that the other things aren’t important – it’s that what kind of a role model you set yourself out to be is one of the most important.
And for me, as a role model, when it comes to supporting specific candidates for office, or pushing a political agenda, I think the premise itself is highly irresponsible. I’m not saying that celebrities have no right to choose – they absolutely do, same as anyone else. And I’m certainly not even saying that they don’t have the right to talk about it – they absolutely do. What I am saying is that, considering the gigantic influence they have on their audience – from those who enjoy their work to those who admire them as human beings – I think it unwise to push a political agenda or support a political candidate outright.
As it is, we live in a world right now where many people feel they don’t have the time to do the research and look into the issues and the people behind them. In many cases, they’d rather someone tell them what they should do. After all, it’s less work. And if Matt Damon or Gary Senise says this is what you should do, well, then that sounds just great!
But it’s not. It’s dangerous. The people who look up to celebrities are impressionable. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but that does mean a reasonable amount of responsibility must be applied. I have no problem with a celebrity pushing a particular cause – from animal rights to autism research. In my mind, a cause is a different thing. It’s something you’re bringing attention to. But the moment it gets into the realm of politics, the whole thing changes.
Rather than say “I’m voting for Trump” or “I think Sanders is the right vote”, why not say “I know how I’m voting, but if you’re unsure, do the research. Listen to your heart and your conscience”? Don’t vote a certain way only because so-and-so is. Realize that that vote is yours, no one else’s, and that you aren’t going to be bullied into voting a particular way (not by your friends, either). It’s one thing if your political conscience is already in line with Chris Rock, but don’t let him be the thing that decides your vote for you.
And, lastly, understand that you have a responsibility. Men and women have died to protect your right to vote. Learning about the candidates, doing the research and determining what’s right for you is what those people died for. It’s a kind of Grace, if you will. But you still have to earn it. And it’s the greatest thing you could do to honor their sacrifice.
As an aside… FINALLY Leo won! I fully believe he is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) actors of our generation, so to see him finally get honored with the trophy after so many attempts was delightful.
And no, J-Law didn’t win… again… but it’s a sure bet she’ll probably be nominated every year until she retires. Maybe even after that.