This is not a story about my political views. This concerns the way we push celebrities up onto pedestals, then knock them down when they reveal themselves to be human. This is the story of how we follow ‘stars’ on social media, in the various tabloids, and gobble up all their various products, but expect these same people to keep their mouths shut and look pretty. Because they obviously exist solely for the benefit of our entertainment whims.
No, this is not about politics. This is a rant that has been building for weeks, months, maybe even years. Decades.
My recent emotion-filled stock pot of emotion started boiling over the moment Meryl Streep stepped on stage at the Golden Globe Awards. She spoke passionately in favor of ‘the arts’ and the role actors, writers and musicians must play during turbulent times such as these. Artists sharing political opinions is not new, but social media’s prolific reaction to their utterances grows daily.
I am a fan of Ms. Streep, of course. Not only do I define myself as a wife and mother, but also a writer and photographer, with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts. Watching the speech unfold, I sat on my sofa with tears in my eyes.
Oh, I knew her words (which rang as a sweet call to action) would strike a sour note for many others in my country. In the days that followed I braced myself every time Facebook and Twitter beckoned. When the inevitable slap came, it was on a loved one’s personal profile in the form of a meme.
Dear Singers and Actors:
We spend our hard earned money to hear your music and to watch you pretend to be characters in movies and on TV.
Your only job is to entertain us. To take us away from reality.
Your personal opinion means nothing to us.
You are significant and influential only in your own mind, and within the mind of your elitist peers.
You are a marionette to us, nothing more.
Sing. Act. Shut up.
To say I was irked would be an extraordinary understatement.
Here’s the thing, in a society which clamors for all things celebrity, this declaration is highly offensive.
I tried to hold my tongue. I did my very best not to come off like some crazy troll. I’ll let you decide if I was successful.
- I’m sorry, but I’m going to call bullshit here. Movies and plays, songs and musicals, books and poetry, etc. etc. etc. – All of these are accepted, if not expected, to have socio-political content and commentary. Why would it be okay for a writer or composer to express their personal thoughts and opinions, but no one else?
- Let’s not forget how our new President got his start in politics – as a guy who became famous through a reality – TV game show, and used his fame to raise questions about the legitimacy of President Obama’s citizenship.
- And then there’s Arnold – the Governator, Ronald Reagan, Al Franken, Jessie “The Body” Ventura, and the guy who played Gofer on The Love Boat, just to name a few entertainers who took their strong opinions, raised their voice, and moved forward in a political sphere.
- If an entertainer’s sole purpose is to be a marionette, then why do we care about who they marry or sleep with? Why is there a paparazzi industry? Why do we have chat shows, magazine interviews, why do we care about anything they care about at all?
- No, I’m sorry, but we don’t get to have it both ways. If good $ is being paid out for not just their talents, but to learn about what clothes they like to wear, foods they prefer, silly anecdotes from both their professional and personal lives – the purpose of which is to prove they are REAL people, just like us – then guess what? They get to have real opinions and the freedom to express them anytime we shove a microphone in their face.
- The trade-off, of course, is that we may choose who we give our hard-earned money to. We can individually boycott anyone and everyone we consider to be insufferable.
- That is how it works when you give any ordinary citizen public attention. The only way to truly stop them from sharing their thoughts is to stop giving them attention.
- Finally, an actor receiving an award for lifetime achievement in front of her peers is well within deserved parameters to address her peers on how she feels THEY should continue the work and responsibilities dictated by their profession.
- Yes, the show was televised, and of course Ms Streep knew that, but her remarks were very specific.
On late-night interview stints, between the pages of magazines and on award show podiums, celebrities are given the opportunity to exist as thoughtful, well-rounded human beings. Perhaps you only enjoy their talent as a character in full costume and makeup after hours of edits and retouching have transpired. Your prerogative.
Might I suggest that if you don’t want to hear socio-political opinions mixed into your indulgent pop-culture people watching, it’s time you stopped watching.