Stick to gossip: Celebrities whose “activism” is pure virtue signalling
Celebrities are often completely tone-deaf, and it can be infuriating. A life of luxury and fame and (presumably) a gaggle of sycophantic hangers-on (i.e. not being told “no” or “that’s a stupid idea” often enough) leads many long-time celebs into a state of complete detachment from the pulse of the common person.
Not to mention celebs tend to lack any real sense of whether their comments are actually worthy of being stated at all. Because of course they are. These are celebrity opinions, after all.
So, in times of crisis, this irritating phenomenon becomes even easier to identify. Last month, it was Gal Gadot’s infamously misguided “Imagine” video, and Arnold Schwarzenegger pleading everyone to stay indoors from the comfort of his multimillion-dollar mansion.
John Krasinski even blew it with his pandering and infantile “Some Good News” videos, in which he never credited a single source for his sappy faux-feel-good stories.
Now, it’s celebrities commenting upon the horrific killing of George Floyd and the ongoing protests and riots (apparently) in response. When tensions are high and emotions flare, celebrities know just how to make everyone collectively say “Shut up. No one cares what you think right now.”
Sometimes famous figures put their foot in their mouth unintentionally, such as when Taiki Waititi, director of such hit films as Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit, felt he just had to respond to rapper & activist Killer Mike’s impassioned address to his home city of Atlanta, GA. Waititi tweeted: “Eloquent. Clear. Everyone is angry but there is a way to direct that anger.”
Waititi’s statement is so hollow, so lacking in any real commentary, and so uninteresting it even comes across as condescending. Online critics were quick to point out that emphasizing how “eloquent” a black man is when speaking can be quite loaded & offensive.
Sometimes celebs just say nothing at all. Similar to Mr. Waititi, Ellen DeGeneres had this to say in a now-deleted tweet: “People of color in this country have faced injustice for far too long. For things to change. Things must change.”
Yes, Ellen. For things to change, things must change. Gotta hand it to her: DeGeneres has a solid grasp on logic here at least. Somehow Waititi’s slogan that “there’s got to be a better way” seems quite profound after that.
Sometimes, even attempts at humility bite celebrities in the a$$. Various celebs, from Seth Rogen to Virgil Abloh (of Louis Vuitton) were lambasted for posting their measly $50 donation to protestor bail funds.
Many well-known figures have since revealed they actually donated much more to these funds. Whether or not they did so after waves of backlash or they were just trying to avoid parading their wealth around is up for debate. (We’ll leave aside the question of whether destructive rioters were also being bailed out with said funds.)
Finally, there’s the tender level of activism, a tier covering everyone from Cara Delevigne to Drake to even the everyday Instagram model. This type of slacktivism entails posting a hashtag or joining an online trend like “Blackout Tuesday” (wherein Instagram users all posted black tiles and didn’t engage online for the day) – and that’s it.
Trendervism may be the worst way to try to be pseudo-involved, but thankfully it’s the least annoying. Would you rather a celebrity broadcast pandering yet ultimately empty statements while doing nothing, or one who does the same thing – just with pictures?
The past few months have exposed that nearly every celebrity has no genuine interest in activism and appears utterly unconnected to the experiences of the everyday individual. There are a few that perhaps shine through: Ariana Grande, Ellen Page, Ben Affleck, John Boyega, Halsey, Cole Sprouse, and even Logan Paul have all attended major protests. Sprouse was being arrested, among others.
There are celebrities out there who care enough to put forth a good-faith effort. Maybe they aren’t necessarily putting their lives on the line, but they sure aren’t cooped up inside their homes. They’re not being keyboard warriors; they’re making a genuine attempt – and maybe that’s enough sometimes.