Celebrities, Politics, and Opinions

By Carley Banks

If we listen to celebrities about their latest diet, go-to makeup product, or favorite vacation spot, why do we not listen to their opinion on politics?

Whether it is on Twitter, Instagram, or an award show, celebrities have not been silent when it comes to current events, and they have received a lot of backlash for it.

According to debate.org, when asked if celebrities should keep out of politics, 74 percent of those surveyed said yes.

Dr. Seth McKee, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas Tech, believes people do not want to hear celebrities talk about politics because their views do not represent the everyday American.

“The country is a lot more moderate and a lot more split between the parties than the celebrity crowd,” McKee said. “And that’s one of the reasons why I think it can be dangerous for them to speak out.”

NPR posted an article in July 2016 titled “Politics Has Become Celebrity-Driven”, and this trend has continuing into 2017.

“The boss on [The] Celebrity Apprentice is now our president,” McKee said. “Donald trump clearly breaks the mold. I mean there’s no doubt he more than anything to me is a celebrity. I know he was a real estate mogul, and a businessman, but for the last 15 years he was doing a reality TV show.”

Dr. Adrian Popan, a sociology professor at Tech, said that celebrities have so much influence over the public, but not everyone takes them seriously.

“They don’t change our opinions. We know what we believe and we either take or reject whatever comes,” Popan said, “But they do have the power to raise awareness about certain issues.”

Celebrities have been seen as “just having a pretty face” or “living in a bubble” for centuries, and some Americans believe they don’t have the qualifications to speak about politics.

Dana Jennings, a graduate student in the College of Media and Communications, believes celebrities have come from all walks of life and shouldn’t be silenced just because they make more money than the average person.

“I think because celebrities have worked their way to such a high place in social society, I think a lot of people strip them of all their problems,” Jennings said, “When in reality they do have a truth, they do have a story, and they do have a place that they’ve come from.”

Then there is another question: has the average politician become a celebrity?

Marty Cohen, a political science professor at James Madison University, said in an interview with NPR that he thinks celebrities have taken over Washington.

“Politicians started to feel to me like celebrities, Cohen said. “That was like 20 years ago, and I think we’ve just steadily continued that trend. And it’s obviously epitomized in Donald Trump being the ultimate celebrity politician. The extent to which celebrity is prized in our society and has infiltrated politics is shocking to me.”

Jennings believes that we need to recognize that celebrities are people above all else.

“If I can go on the Internet and say what I believe and why I think the world should be the way it is,” Jennings said, “then why cant a celebrity?”

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