Comment Editor Alex Cirant-Taljaard offers his opinion on George Osborne's recent appointment as the editor of The Evening StandardWritten by Alex Cirant-Taljaard on 23rd March 2017
Should Celebrities Voice Their Political Opinions?
Kat Smith questions if celebrities should be involved in politics
JK Rowling may be world-famous for conjuring up the wizarding world of Harry Potter we all know and love, but her latest body of art is her series of tweets attacking journalist and presenter Piers Morgan in relation to Trump and his policies. Like much of our communal disgust of Trump and his views, Rowling’s hatred of the current US president isn’t a recent development, with her 2015 tweet illustrating that even her iconic antagonist was more favourable.
Not being shy of expressing her political opinions, Rowling has clashed with Morgan over their differing views on the likes of the migrant ban and in general, Trump. The war was sparked by Rowling’s joy at Morgan being sworn at on live TV for his support of Trump’s travel ban that restricts access to the US by those in seven Muslim-majority countries.
I think it’s pretty clear I’m firmly Team Rowling in this Twitter battle, but what I really want to focus on is the discourse between two prominent figures over social media and what this means for modern politics. Though the media and public reception of Rowling’s comments have been largely positive, with the likes of The Guardian commending her for dealing a “cunning blow” in the battle between the two figures, some have questioned whether the pair should be discussing politics so publicly; is it out of their sphere? I don’t think so. Morgan himself criticised Ewan McGregor’s decision to not go on Good Morning Britain after Morgan’s comments about the Women’s March based on the fact that McGregor’s profession is acting and not politics. Morgan’s piece in his Daily Mail column quotes Elvis Presley’s vow to remain apolitical. Ironic, much? Morgan has been vocal about his support for his friend Trump and discussed politics on various shows and in his articles. Apparently being a journalist and a breakfast show presenter gives you the worldly knowledge to have political views but everyone else’s brains are restricted to their jobs.
“By keeping politics to the politicians, we are leaving the representation of beliefs and ideals to those whose careers rest on keeping their supporters happy
Shouldn’t we be encouraging everyone to get involved in/have a voice in politics? We are all affected by the policies and laws that shape the world around us; it concerns all of us. By keeping politics to the politicians, we are leaving the representation of beliefs and ideals to those whose careers rest on keeping their supporters happy. Those outside of the profession may be considered more honest; we should encourage people of all walks of life to express their political views. Back in December, Mark Wahlberg said that celebrities live in a bubble and don’t understand the effect of political decisions on others and so shouldn’t voice their views. Then, after making these comments, he went on to discuss Trump’s travel ban. From this it seems clear to me that we all have political opinions; it’s human to care about who is governing the most prominent country in the world. Through discussion and debate we can refine these and possibly alter them. Failing to educate yourself politically and keeping any opinions quiet isn’t engaging in the world around you.
So, I believe we should appreciate the honesty of celebrities and other non-political figures and I can’t help but agree with the Guardian when they stated that such a conflict is not only a clash of two wealthy and well-known celebrities but also two drastically different worldviews. We can appreciate the views of others without agreeing with them; in fact talking to someone with opposing views is probably the best way to solidify or modify your own. Utilising social media to discuss things that actually matter is surely a good thing, as much as I like doing the occasional Buzzfeed Quiz. We should all have an interest in the world around us, so stifling the opinions of others just because they’re a celebrity seems like an ignorant step in the wrong direction.