In today’s society, celebrity voices are becoming increasingly prominent. While it is the job of journalists to interview experts in the field of their subject, they often look to represent the voices of the “common folk” to make for a more robust and relatable story. With the reality TV “I’m just like you, only richer” culture always expanding, it seems more and more often the voices of us “common folk” are being replaced by those of popular celebrities.
This trend is not only non-productive, it is destructive to our society. While the media is saturated with the voices of entertainers, producers, and prominent businesspeople, when and where are the voices of blue-collar workers represented? While Los Angeles, Seattle et cetera repeatedly sound off with the opinions and expressions of their film stars and musicians, the working-class’ media exposure is largely limited.
The celebrities are not exactly to blame. Anyone given a podium would be foolish not to utilize it. It is hard to fault them for making use of the power they are given. It is also foolish to think their contributions are all one and the same – while musician Kanye West periodically reminds the world of his blatantly over-inflated ego, actor Ashton Kutcher helps manage an organization that has thus far identified more than 6,000 victims of child trafficking.
Are these celebrities as deep and multi-faceted as the rest of us? Absolutely. But what kind of world is it where so few of us were aware (until recently, perhaps) of Kutcher’s humanitarian work, yet so many of us were informed of West’s clothing line?
Is this the type of news we gravitate toward? We consumers seem inclined to consume the largely-irrelevant and uninformed blithering of celebrities.
Perhaps no one exemplifies this podium abuse as well as actor Shia LaBeouf, whom, with the help of artists Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, has been making headlines with his Anti-Donald Trump art project, “He Will Not Divide Us.” As a quick aside, I believe their usage of free speech is admirable and even desirable. Their actions are a basic human right, fully protected under the First Amendment.
I must admit, however, I find it puzzling how such a relatively brainless act of protest could be considered “art.” Why is it that more creative, more productive acts of protest across the nation pertaining to the very same subject receive a fraction of the coverage LaBeouf’s protest does?
Oh, right. Because he’s a celebrity, and that status somehow makes him more important than us plebeians. No one would dare make such a claim, but it’s the underlying message we are repeatedly spoon-feeding ourselves.
The purpose of a protest is to give a podium to the voiceless, and we are failing miserably at it. The national news media regularly publish articles on the acts of violent, fringe extremists, while failing to cover the reasonable voices of the majority of protestors. They excessively publicize the acts of attention-seeking, out-of-control celebrities, while failing to emphasize the reasonable voices of the majority of protestors.
There are exceptions, but numbers of these “household names” fail to properly represent our opinions. To many of these celebrities, we are only pawns with which to increase their fame and even their notoriety.
Humans crave drama, and these superstar individuals – who are the best at what they do, that is, being famous – know exactly how to exploit that desire. Their voices are often divisive and toxic, because that’s what gets publicized. That’s what we read, that’s what we crave.
We need to find a better outlet for our craving.
The sooner we as citizens of the United States stop giving away our voices to these deliberately inflammatory personalities, the sooner we, the reasonable majority, start having our say again.