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Famous Does Not Equal Knowledgeable: Why We Shouldn’t Expect Celebs to be Political Activists

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Celebrities leaving the big screen for the podium is not a new phenomenon. Ronald Reagan started as a renowned Hollywood actor and became governor of California in 1967 and eventually the U.S. President in 1981. Donald Trump was known for being on the reality TV show The Apprentice, becoming infamous for yelling at people: “You’re fired!” He went on to become arguably one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history.

If that isn’t enough reason to believe that those who are not well-versed in politics should not be given political influence, we’ve also seen Kanye West’s failed attempt to run for president in 2020. Most recently, TV’s “favorite” physician Dr. Oz is running for U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania. The mass media in today’s modern world only exacerbates the issue even further; now anyone can have a platform, no matter what views they hold or how knowledgeable they are. 

Not only do a majority of celebrities know little about politics or the “real world,” but their massive followings make it extremely easy for them to influence the ballot box and the way of thinking for large populations. A 2008 University of Maryland study found that Oprah Winfrey was responsible for bringing Obama up to one million votes in the 2008 election. TikTok star Charli D’Amelio has accumulated almost 150 million followers in only three short years of being on the platform. Not only does this provide young, unknowledgeable teenagers like her with massive spheres of influence, but it also creates an immense amount of pressure on celebrities and influencers like Charli to be the “voice of reason” during political uprisings or major current events. I mean, we’ve all seen the Vanessa Hudgens videos during the beginning of the pandemic when hundreds of thousands of people were dying a day. Should we really be trusting these people to provide us with accurate, trustworthy information and unbiased, well-researched opinions? 

I don’t disagree with some celebrities using their platforms for good; Leonardo DiCaprio (despite his unfortunate taste in younger women) was designated as the United Nations Messenger of Peace for Climate Change and sits on the board of several climate activism committees. Actress and model, Priyanka Chopra, has been a UNICEF Global Ambassador to India since 2016. The real danger is when users of social media depend on these celebrities not only for information but for guidance on how and what to think. Of course, it’s natural to want your favorite celebs or influencers to share the same opinions as you or favor the same political candidates. However, asking someone like Charli D’Amelio to speak up about the Black Lives Matter movement or the hurricane in Puerto Rico is unrealistic and irresponsible. 

What I suggest for those who get a majority of their news from social media is following political influencers that are actually educated in the realm of politics, or news accounts like @Marcus.Dipaola who provide relatively unbiased, well-researched, and up-to-date information. And if anyone is from Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t trust the man who falsely advertises dietary supplements to be your next senator.

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Eve Lescovitz

U Mass Amherst

Eve is a junior Political Science and Spanish major at UMass Amherst. Her favorite things are Harry Styles, sweet treats, and her puppy, Garbanzo. When she's not in class catch her napping, hanging out with friends, or listening to music way too loudly.