Art has a history of being heavily influenced by political and social change. For decades, entertainers have captured the pulse of culture through their music and art, and commented on current events through their award show speeches and television appearances. Many famous people have also acknowledged that they are not just entertainers, relegated to speaking exclusively through and about their art — they are, in fact, public citizens, with the right and responsibility to participate in social discourse. From “We Are The World” to Rock The Vote, celebrities have often chosen to use their prominent platforms to directly address political issues or advocate for various causes.
To them, speaking out in favor or against a hot-button issue might be seen as an opportunity to relate to the general population. Doing so can make the celebs appear as if they are “just like us,” and shows that they have some awareness of the world outside of their Hollywood bubble. However, this isn’t always well-received by the average Joe. Celebrity activism is often taken as condescension, dismissed as uninformed, or assumed to be motivated by a paycheck.
A popular opinion is that singers should sing, not talk about politics. Likewise, actors should act, and basketball players should barely even speak. Entertainers shouldn’t get involved in presidential elections, humanitarian issues, environmental causes or basically anything else outside of their professional scope. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this “shut up and entertain” argument also often comes from people who don’t agree with their political views.