Do celebrities have a duty to speak out on global affairs?

Celebrities are using their platforms to speak on social justice, but is it their place to do so?

Zahra Hanif
21st November 2023

Social and global issues have been around for as long as time. Our generation is only unique in how our social media use intertwines with this fact, bringing our awareness to events and allowing users to spread information - but also too often, misinformation, at the speed of light. Increased awareness has proven a useful tool for several reasons, such as compiling funds to provide aid and informing the uneducated, resulting in increased action.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that when global issues occur, internet users urge their favourite celebrities to take a stance - as their platform provides a far greater reach than theirs could. But should celebrities speak out on global affairs? Do they even have a duty to?

In an ideal world, they should. Yes, celebrities aren’t famed for their political opinions, likely it’ll be their acting or musical career. But when severe injustices are unfolding, they should recognise their privilege - which is immense in comparison to the average person - and speak for those who too often aren’t being listened to, or don’t have platforms at all. The argument sometimes arises that this is delving into the parasocial, that they are solely entertainers and not politicians, but when tragedies are unfolding on a global scale and basic human rights and lives are on the line, it becomes a moral imperative for individuals with this reach to utilise their privilege and platform. 

But realistically, there are a few factors that complicate this. For example, celebrities are no different to us on many levels, one of them being that they are just as susceptible to misinformation as we are. Therefore, if they choose to take a stance that is born from ignorance, the influence that they carry becomes a tool for bad rather than good - thousands, if not millions, of users will be misled. It shouldn’t be that so many individuals have this blind trust in their favourite influencer, but that’s a completely different conversation. 

So while I think celebrities should utilise their position, I think that they should be carefully informed before doing so - they need to recognise both their platform and their privilege and genuinely be committed to the cause they are speaking for. Just like us, they need to take the time to educate themselves before posting anything for the masses to see, and be conscious particularly of susceptible fans who may take their words as a given.

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AUTHOR: Zahra Hanif
English literature student :)

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