Everyone’s A Critic (And That’s Okay)
Whenever a political debacle occurs, it has a way of overpowering the Internet. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the matter. I see that as a positive thing because it means people are tuned in to what is going on and they care about the things that surround them. Apathy, among other things, is what keeps positive social change from happening.
Among the people who voice their opinions about current events are celebrities. Naturally, celebrities are bound to be heard and repeated more because they have PR and large followings of fans.
Generally speaking, we tend to have a very complicated relationship with celebrities. On one hand, we worship them, vicariously experience their extravagant lifestyles, and we support their artistic causes by buying their movies, books, and CDs. If you ask a roomful of people who is their favorite musician, writer, comedian, or actor, I highly doubt you would find someone who couldn’t name at least a single person in one of those categories.
Somehow, though, there is a trend of people discounting the opinions of celebrities. I can’t figure out precisely why this is, though I can think of a multitude of reasons. Obviously most of the time the reasons stem from what a celebrity says, and disagreements with what he or she says. Reasons are also related to the strange relationship we have with celebrities: We love to purchase and support their artistic undertakings, but when it comes to hearing their opinions (even though that is what is often conveyed via their art of choice), many people are outraged.
What inspired this article was something I’ve been ruminating over for months. When the Trayvon Martin verdict came out, musician Regina Spektor expressed her sadness over the verdict and said, in short, “…there was not justice served.”
What ensued was a backlash of hatred towards a very non-controversial artist, which she directly addressed again, via her Facebook page. To paraphrase, she said:
“If you think I should shut up and sing (by definition an impossible act:-) then perhaps you should not upset yourself, spare your blood pressure and, unlike this page. Also feel free only to listen to music by people you agree with. It’s all good! There’s room enough for everyone in this world, and moments like these are a great opportunity for people to find some new places to like or unlike.”
While she handled the backlash gracefully, she also pointed out that one cannot both “shut up and sing,” a very common response to any opinion a musician happens to voice.
What is most important here is two things: First, we oftentimes forget that celebrities are people, too, and have opinions. In fact, what we frequently pay for is their opinions expressed in various ways. They are entitled to their own opinions, and have the option to speak it or not, just as everyone else does.
The second part we often forget is that if a celebrity says or does something that so offends us, we have a right to not only financially support them by not seeing their films or shows, listening to their music, buying their books, or whatever else they may be selling.
After all, it’s up to you.
Credit for Regina Spektor quotes: