A House of Cards? Actors involved with politics

Pro: actors should speak out

By Valeria Olivares-Torres

Celebrities have the power to reach millions of people instantly through social media, performances, speeches, and public appearances. Living a high profile life gives them the ability to make their voices heard and to fight for what they believe is right, including advocating for their preferred presidential candidate. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, celebrities from all different parts of the industry actively endorsed candidates, mostly Hillary Clinton. This brings up the issue of whether or not entertainment figures should use their wide reach to promote and voice their opinions. I think that these individuals should use their public exposure to voice their beliefs. Many others don’t have the luxury of having their voice heard by such a large or wide-ranging audience. Anyone who has a voice and an audience should use it, especially entertainment figures.

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Caroline/" title="View all of this person's work">"Caroline</a></span>

graphic by Caroline Tan

Although the result of the election was not one which many had hoped for, celebrities have not stopped in their campaign against the new administration. After a performance of Hamilton, the actor who plays Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, took to the stage to voice the cast’s opinion to Vice President Pence. Despite a myriad of critics supporting the content of Dixon’s impromptu speech, many also thought that the time and place when it was delivered was not appropriate. Employing the time after the show, he used it to speak for the “diverse America”, and to help those who feel they have been silenced. Using the audience that the show had access to, Dixon was able fight for what he and the cast thought was right.

Other celebrities have used the spotlight similarly. Meryl Streep used her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes to speak about the importance of foreigners to the country, and how Trump uses his power to bully those in positions where it is impossible to fight back. Streep received much criticism and appraisal for using her platform to stand up against the president. To not use this opportunity would have been a waste. Celebrities like Streep and Dixon took a stand for those who couldn’t fight back, forcing millions of Americans to take a minute out of their lives and think with a different perspective. Streep forced people to take into account the many ways in which immigrants influence our daily lives, which is, for the majority, better. Instead of using the spotlight for their own personal gain, celebrities have shifted the spotlight to issues they thought needed addressing. Critics of these outspoken celebrities think that using time meant for entertainment shouldn’t be turned political. If celebrities don’t take these opportunities, their words won’t impact the audience as much as it does. The time and place she choose to speak about these issues is what made her words memorable.

These spontaneous speeches of celebrities discussing what they believe is important are what make us remember them and their words. Celebrities should use their public appearances to take a stand for what they believe is right, regardless of whether it is political or not. Possessing the large platform and audience that they do, they have the responsibility of using that spotlight judiciously.

Con: actors should stay silent

By Katie Stewart

In addition to starring in movies and TV shows, most actors have the job of maintaining an active social media presence. With anywhere from hundreds to millions of followers, celebrities should realize that anything they post has a lasting impact.

Take the election. It seemed for awhile that it was impossible to go on Facebook without seeing someone famous telling me I needed to vote for Hillary Clinton. Even though I could not vote, I liked seeing the actors being active in social issues outside their films.

When Trump got elected, of course I did not blame celebrity endorsements. Only after considering the motivations of trump voters did I start to wonder if celebrity endorsements did more harm than good.

Trump was elected in large part because people felt that their needs and problems were not being addressed in Washington. Since celebrities are well known for making millions and spending it extravagantly, it’s easy to see why a one percenter telling someone to vote for one person could actually push people away from that candidate.

Even if celebrities wanted Trump to lose the election because of his abysmal rights policies, not everyone does enough researching before voting to know that. They merely see extravagant ad campaigns of what can appear as pompous, self-righteous speeches from people who live in the bubble of Hollywood. That is not the type of person that appeals to the everyday voter.

It led me to think that maybe I loved these videos so much because I agreed with the actors before I saw them, so they were merely affirming my beliefs. It was not because I saw the videos that I held these views. After all, actors have no special qualifications or experience that they should tell people how to vote. They are merely regular people who are given a camera to talk into and an audience to listen to them.

Therefore, I urge celebrities to put more thought into how their wield their political influence. Sometimes when celebrities speak out there are positive outcomes. For instance, celebrities at the Women’s March rallied people around a common goal, and inspired them. This led to positive change. However, like many election clips actors’ videos do not always do this. I do not advocate that celebrities should never share their political opinions, but it is imperative they are aware the effect their words and actions can have.

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