Prior to the Golden Globes, host Ricky Gervais urged celebrities not to take politics to the forefront of the show by saying, “You know nothing about the real world,” and adding “Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg”. Despite his pleas, however, the award show ended up being highly political touching on the escalating situation with the U.S. and Iran, the urgency of pro-choice politicians in office and the 2020 US presidential elections. Most frequently mentioned were the devastating Australia fires, as some industry figures connected them to climate change.
It has now become commonplace for award shows to become a medium for some of the world’s most influential personalities to voice their opinions on political affairs. Given the advent of politics at award shows, it is worth questioning whether this is an appropriate trend.
Some, like Ricky Gervais, argue that celebrities shouldn’t be making statements about politics at all. In this debate, there are two schools of thought; those who believe that celebrities have an obligation to speak out about political affairs due to their power of influence and those who believe that they should remain silent and leave political affairs to the policy makers. Given the remarkable power of influence celebrities have, some believe that it is their duty to speak out about current affairs, especially in the case of natural disasters and human rights atrocities. The foundation of this belief is that they are able to raise awareness on these issues at a scale that no other individual or organisation is able to do. This awareness can then lead to greater good- the ability to create campaigns and funds that can help disaster or war stricken regions and the encouraging of youth to become more knowledgable and vocal about the world around them.
The flip side to this, however, is the belief that celebrities are too uninformed about complex and nuanced political issues and as such, shouldn’t be projecting uninformed opinions on impressionable youthful minds.
Moreover, there are also those who believe that award shows are the perfect place to be bringing significant political issues into the spotlight. Due to the sheer scale and reach of these shows, using them as a platform for political activism is an effective way to get a meaningful message across to a far-reaching audience. Then there are those that believe that being activists at award shows doesn’t really lead to any significant political change, after all, tweeting your opinions (or opinions that you’ve adopted from your favourite celebrities) isn’t as effective as genuinely doing something such as donating funds or volunteer work.
People will point out that there is a right to free speech, which is true, but with the rating drops of various popular award shows, political talk is not reflecting well on them. Perhaps talk of controversial political topics should not be in included in these shows. The audience doesn’t watch to hear about the latest news on abortion laws or the most recent hate crime, while they are important topics to discuss, they are not the topics to discuss on awards shows where the focus is cinematic or musical awards.
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