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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Nowadays it’s increasingly common for celebrities and entertainers to take a public stance on politics. With the ability to air their thoughts and opinions on social media with a few clicks, everyone is mostly aware of what celebrities have to say. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

Some absolutely loathe this. They say that celebrities have no expertise on the matter and should keep singing, acting, writing or hosting their nightly comedy shows. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has frequently been called out on Twitter for her political stances, as has model Chrissy Teigen. That’s just scratching the surface.

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, some expect every celebrity to have an opinion, calling them out when they don’t act or have a solid stance on a subject. Most recently, Lady Gaga has been criticized for not taking a political stance during her Super Bowl performance.

Then there’s the whole mix of celebrities who get criticized for having the “wrong” political opinion. Lena Dunham seems to be under fire every few weeks or so. Bradley Cooper, the star of “American Sniper,” received intense criticism after showing up at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

For some reason, celebrities speaking out on politics — or “not” speaking out — tends to dominate trending news. Sometimes, what an A-list celebrity has to say (or doesn’t have to say) may overshadow the actual news going on.

Should celebrities stay out of politics then?

This is a tired adage, but we should treat them like we treat normal people when it comes to political opinions. Celebrities, when it comes down to it, are people — shiny, rich, perfectly airbrushed people — nonetheless. They have the right to have an opinion. They have the right to not have one.

And as a consumer, yes, you have the right to disagree with them. If a celebrity’s political opinion (or lack thereof) bothers you, then yes, you have the right to stop listening to their music and unfollow them. Seriously, it takes two seconds to click “unfollow” if J.K. Rowling or Lena Dunham are really bothering you. You have the right to keep following them as well. Maybe your friends are swearing off a particular singer because of his stance on some hot topic issue, but hey, you really like his hit single. You don’t have to follow the crowd.

Now some will argue that because celebrities have such a wide-reaching platform, they should be held to a higher standard, since what they say (or don’t say) can influence a lot of people. We will agree to this to an extent. The thing is, there’s a difference between spewing hate messages and a political opinion — though, of course, some will argue that those lines are getting blurrier. And if it comes down to that, once again, social media is a powerful thing. You see celebrities calling each other out for hateful words, correcting each other.

It’s a slippery slope, though: When does a celebrity’s opinion or Twitter beef turn into something more powerful? Has anyone really been convinced by what Beyoncé has said, or do the words of celebrities just polarize opinions even further?

At the end of the day, just remember this: The real issues are not what Kim Kardashian or Kanye West think about the subject, or whether you should unfollow them on Twitter because you don’t agree with them. The real issues are, believe it or not, the actual events and decisions that affect the world.

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