For years now, I’ve hosted an Oscar party. I love gathering people together over good food and even better drinks to socialize and talk movies. Before the show begins, we talk about films seen and missed, our picks, and debate the outcome. As the curtain rises and the show gets underway, we settle into a rhythm: opening number, awards, announcement, winner, debate, awards, announcement, winner, debate… Then it happens, a celebrity takes the stage and uses the platform to give their political or societal opinion. Without a doubt, someone in the group will say something along the lines, “Who cares what you think?” or “We didn’t pay for your opinion.” Every single time it happens, I shudder and think, “Why aren’t celebrities allowed to express their opinion?”
Now, I know there is a stereotype about Hollywood, liberal elites. If you find yourself in disagreement with that viewpoint, I understand that the natural reaction might be to wish for silence or another platform for the expression of a person’s opinion. Still, I can’t help but wonder why celebrities aren’t allowed and/or are expected to not use a public platform for what they believe to be the common good, speak truth to power, influence public opinion, and/or bring others along.
Celebrities, musicians, artists, and the common man… We are one and the same. We are citizens of this great country. To varying degrees, we pay taxes and therefore expect certain things from our government. Thanks to fame, some of us have been afforded an opportunity to make our voices heard and have that voice echo a little further than the average person. I find no problem in that truth and I hope I am strong enough to handle conservative celebrities who exercise their right as well.
We ultimately have three choices: Kanye, Bono, or nothing at all. One is self-indulgent. One seems to be outwardly focused. The other says nothing at all. One is an egomaniac. One is egocentric but uses his voice and power to promote good. The other is told to shut and sing. These are our options and we have to pick. Personally, I choose the celebrity who cares for his fellow man and desires to improve his condition. I choose the person who realizes their privilege and wants to make life better for others. I choose the celebrity who gives a damn over the one who doesn’t every day of the week.
So, if you are invited to attend one of my Oscar parties, prepare yourself. I will be listening intently to what my fellow citizens have to say. On rare occasions, I may disagree, but I will always celebrate their right to do so. My purpose isn’t to silence anyone. I am concerned for those are silenced.
Be good to each other,
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