Should we expect celebrities to fix the world?
It is no secret that the world is full of tragic events. Every day, there are news articles on various atrocities committed across the globe, many of which aren't even reported about on a large scale. This leads to a lot of discontent from affected parties, or anyone who is aware of it. It can be hard for them to spread awareness about it as they might not have much of an internet presence, and will aim for someone with a large following to speak up.
This is the reason why many people gravitate towards celebrities to be their spokespeople. Being a celebrity means that they'll have a wide reach, and will be able to bring much needed attention to it. Additionally, seeing a beloved person standing up for one's rights can bring them a huge sense of pride.
However, what they often don't realise is that this can bring about more bad than good.
The first thing to remember is that just because someone is known by a lot of people doesn't necessarily mean that they're known by the right ones. If an actor posts about an important event, chances are that most of their followers won't care about it. They are there to see the celebrity post about new movies, or see them go about their day. Many people don't actually care about these things, or might be feeling news fatigue from seeing too much tragedy, so they try to avoid these kinds of news.
Even if for the percentage of fans who do care about it, they probably won't trust this celebrity with information, and with good reason. A lot of false news exists online, and not everyone is very good at telling it apart from what's real. If a celebrity comes across an article from an unreliable source with a fear-mongering headline and shares it, they're bringing a lot of negative attention to it. Not everyone checks their sources on the links they post, but a celebrity doing it is definitely more egregious due to the size of their following.
Many celebrities can also end up becoming performative activists. During the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, a lot of them posted black squares with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. While they were appreciated at first for bringing awareness, their posts started overshadowing content from actual activists. A lot of these posts were deleted when the BLM protests lessened, and many had posted them on their stories so they were gone in a week anyway. These black squares didn't bring about any productive changes, and all it did was inconvenience more people than inform them.
Lastly, it's important to remember that at the end of the day, they're just celebrities. In an interview with Pharell Williams, BTS member RM expressed his confusion about his group being chosen to talk to presidents with the quote "Am I a diplomat, or what?" because that is not their job. No matter how far their reach might spread, this is not what they actually signed up for, and they aren't actually equipped for it.
This doesn't mean that celebrities can't be passionate about anything important, but expecting them to be the voice of reason is quite illogical. Instead, it's more important to support actual activists, and put pressure on politicians because they were appointed to bring about the changes.
1. Rolling Stone (November 1, 2022). What If I Don't Like Music Anymore?: A Wildly Honest Conversation Between BTS' RM and Pharrell Williams.
Namreen is sick and tired. Send a reminder that life goes on at [email protected]