Celebrity and Politics

I know that I’m not the first to write about this topic, and I am certain that I won’t be the last. But this week, I feel really moved to offer my take on the issue.

I’ve seen a lot of articles, tweets, and other posts lately hating on celebrities for being politically involved. And I don’t get it. First and foremost, celebrities are people. They’re human beings, just like you and me. And don’t we have our own views and ideas about the world? Aren’t we allowed to express them how we might? Why should a celebrity not be afforded the same luxury?

Yes, perhaps you listen to a particular musician, or watch a particular comedian, and you tune in simply for the entertainment they bring you. But artists do not exist simply to entertain. We are not puppets, bending to the will of our potential audience. Artists exist as humans. And each human NEEDS to be able to process what’s happening around them. Art allows us to do that. How many times have you been watching a tv show, or listening to a song, or admiring a painting and thought, ‘This [art] is my life!’ Art allows us the means by which to reflect and relate to the world and the people around us. And in this day in age, when there is so much hate and violence and tragedy surrounding us, I think it is the duty of Artists of all kinds to use their platforms to ignite discussion.

Many months ago, Vice President Mike Pence attended Hamilton,¬†here in New York. And when he got up to leave, the audience booed him. But the cast members were having none of that. Instead, they thanked Pence for attending, and encouraged him to embrace the diversity he saw on stage that night, knowing that it represents the United States as it is: a country filled with promises of hope and opportunity that people from all over the world have traveled to be able to take advantage of, in the hope that they can make a better life for themselves and their progeny. Jimmy Kimmel has recently received a lot of hate for using his show to spread his views about health insurance. Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes is something we won’t soon forget.

Furthermore, most celebrities haven’t always been rich and famous. Many celebrities worked really hard to get where they are, and have devoted their lives to making their mark on the world through their acting, or writing, or singing, etc. So to suggest that they don’t know what they’re talking about is disrespectful and I would hope that we would all seek to use our favorite celebrity’s comments as a jumping off point with which to have our own discussions about what we think is the best step forward.

On Monday evening, I participated in a Staged Reading of a new play called Man & Wife, by Emma Goldman-Sherman. It is a beautifully written piece that also happens to be very politically driven. When it was being workshopped, it actually started a really in-depth discussion about the current political climate in the United States, in which we all were able to hear differing perspectives, and perhaps come closer to understanding the other side, even if we disagree. And that, my friends, is the beauty of Art. It brings to the forefront issues that you may be struggling with, and allows you the freedom to discuss them through the backdrop of the play or song or movie you just witnessed.

Allow the celebrities to be who they are: religious or not, liberal or conservative, political or not. Because at the end of the day, their job is just that: their job. They are human beings, and they should be allowed to exist as such.