Pop culture in politics: How should celebrities utilize their platform?

By Bridget Gum

Many people use social media frequently, specifically young adults and teens. Some follow celebrities on these platforms, especially superfans. While most celebrities post about beautiful views, their pets, families and what they are currently doing, many are becoming more vocal about their political opinions, in light of the recent election.

Now that voting is officially over, more and more people are opening up about who they voted for and their political beliefs, celebrities in particular. Just like normal people, these figures are entitled to their own political beliefs and to share them with whomever they would like. However, given that they have a louder and more influential voice, a debate has surfaced on whether or not they should be looked up to for guidance on how to vote or what political opinions to have. What authority or education do they have? How informed are Chris Pratt or Lil Wayne? What would happen if Kayne West became president?

As UFC Today says, celebrities’ involvement in politics has both pros and cons, both in their influence and expressing their opinions. 

After Taylor Swift expressed her political opinions in 2018 on Instagram, “166,000 new voter registrations between the time she posted on Oct. 7 and noon on Oct. 9,” according to Vote.org. “About 42 percent of those registrants were between the ages of 18 and 24.”

Many celebrities use their immense following to influence people about social justice issues and human rights. After the coronavirus pandemic, Jennifer Garner used her Instagram about her using her following to raise both money and awareness for hunger in America for FeedAmerica.org. 

Other public figures have used their following to raise money, as in the case of Chris Pratt and Chris Evans, who made a public bet about the outcome of Super Bowl XLIX. The loser had to donate money to Seattle Children’s hospital. 

Since many celebrities have used their social media to help numerous organizations and people, society tends to follow and idolize them in every light, not just because they are good-looking and talented. 

But where is the line? 

A majority of these celebrities did not attend college and some did not even graduate high school, and if they do have a degree, it’s usually an honorary one for both them and the college to get press and attention. 

According to the Fordham Observer, “Most actors, musicians, directors, models and public figures are popular because their job is to entertain the masses and make money. Most didn’t go to university, and if they did, they usually majored in one of the fine arts.”

Kaedon Knight, a sophomore musical theater and arts major, feels that it’s perfectly fine and even endorses celebrities voicing their opinions, especially if it’s about social justice or human rights issues and they are using their platform to help make a difference. 

“I feel like celebrities shouldn’t act on issues as if they know more than other people when they don’t.” Knight said, “I feel like that’s probably out of their realm of knowledge, or at least where any celebrity should be able to speak.” 

Many people are easily swayed and influenced by celebrities and it could influence their voting patterns if someone speaks out about a certain political figure. 

Since socialites are not always the most educated, informed or authority figures on political science, they could severely sway an election they know little about and that may not be in the best interest of the city, district or country. 

Some celebrities even take it as far as to run for office, some even win office. 

Knight expressed that if a celebrity would like to run for local office for the pure intent of helping their local community and being knowledgeable about their local issues, that’s perfectly fine. However, when they leap into a larger public office without much knowledge or the proper qualifications, Knight feels it is too far. 

Knight explained, “celebrities should be mindful of their influence on people and should be mindful of what they say because I definitely respect celebrities who are aware of their power.”

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