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Celebrities: what does it mean to be an activist?

With the beginning of the 21st century also began the widespread acceptance that anyone who is good at acting must also have a good and informative opinion about an array of political topics. 

Very rarely do we see award shows that are void of a celebrity expressing their opinion behind the podium that has no relevance to the award show. Certainly, they do provide us with another form of “entertainment,” but should celebrities take these few minutes to interrupt an entire event over things we already know? The answer is: no. 

After watching Meryl Streep’s speech at the 2017 Golden Globes, I was stunned over some of the comments she made. Although her speech held unavoidable truths, it held faults as well.  I cannot imagine how many average Americans felt hearing that “You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now.” I don’t appreciate Hollywood and all of their glorified fame and money placing themselves as a victim in society. Yes, I love how good you are at your job and the peace it brings me after a hard day of work. However, I do not want to hear you tell me how hard it is to be a member of a denounced faction when I have no proof that you or your colleagues have experienced half the things others have.  

I must agree with Mark Wahlberg when he commented that, “A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.” 

I understand that it is our First Amendment right to express ourselves, and it is understandable to see why celebrities would want to use any opportunity to spread their message. However, there are so many other options for them to reach out to just as many viewers, through their social media, interviews, podcasts and more. 

Activism has helped bring this country out of the dark on many aspects, but it should be done respectfully and not in a way that steals the spotlight from others. I do not find it dehumanizing to a celebrity for wanting them to express their opinions elsewhere. They should not have to disrupt a whole event that is about many others than just themselves to do it.  

I’m not suggesting that celebrities shouldn’t exercise their right to free speech. There have been many celebrities that have done a wonderful job as activists out from behind the podium. 

Ashton Kutcher took matters into his own hands and created a company that works with law enforcement to help build tools that protect children from sexual abuse. Rather than taking to the award show podium to express his opinion, he brought it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

This is the activism I want to see. Go beyond a speech and actually work towards change and build credibility for yourself and what you believe in. 

Kutcher is not the only celebrity to make a difference. Angelina Jolie is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for refugees. Emma Watson was appointed as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador to support the “HeForShe” campaign to promote equality. 

These are just a few of the handful of celebrities who have changed their reputation from being a famous celebrity with limited knowledge to well-informed activists for minority groups. 

We all must agree that there are times and places for everything. Even though celebrities have been using the awards show podium as a political soapbox for years, now is the time for them to focus their efforts more on less convenient but more meaningful and effective outlets. 

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