Opinion: Celebrities Share Their Views, Just as We Do
Amidst the surge of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, activists, celebrities and politicians alike often showed their support online and on the streets blurring the lines between the three categories.
More than ever before, social media gives influencers the ability to reach millions of people with the press of a button. Such power can grow or destroy a cause. In the case of the BLM protests, influencer support swelled and the movement capitalized on this increase in attention.
Billie Eilish is an example of celebrity who used her platform to advocate for BLM. The massively popular musician was vocal on social media voicing her support for BLM and posting resources. Eight posts on her Instagram account are still up from that time.
Even though Eilish used her platform to spread awareness for a cause she was passionate about, her comment sections are full of disagreement. Some say she is pushing her narrative on young fans. Others talk about celebrities brainwashing the public.
I believe there is a generally unjustified fear in American culture right now — especially on the right and religious side of the political aisle — that “Hollywood” or celebrities in general are trying to brainwash the public or force their views on the world. The reality is, everyone is entitled to hold an opinion and say it as they wish.
Free speech is a topic often breached today arguing about the buzzword “cancel culture” ingrained in current talking points. Under the First Amendment all citizens are granted the freedom of speech, but in Billie Eilish’s support of BLM, her opponents advocate for anything but free speech.
The idea that a celebrity voicing his or her opinion is “brainwashing” the audience is extreme and inaccurate. Disagreeing with the premise of BLM does not mean its supporters — like Eilish — are brainwashing the public.
Influencers obviously can hold a lot of sway over the public. For example, Billie Eilish has more followers on Instagram than there are people in the top three most-populated states combined. Four of her posts have more likes than the entire population of Pennsylvania.
But why is it a problem for her to say what she wants to? Ultimately, Eilish’s dissenters are biased against her advocacy because they disagree with what she stands for. The same can be said for any celebrity who uses his or her platform to support a controversial opinion. The opposition will always disagree with what is being said regardless of who is saying what.
It is vital for every person in society to understand that any celebrity’s opinion is worth only as much as an ordinary person’s opinion should be. Billie Eilish has only one vote and only one voice like every other citizen of the U.S. Like any source, a celebrity can use his or her platform to spread information, but the audience should never unquestioningly accept it.
Some people like Billie Eilish hold sway over vast numbers of people, but exercising their right to free speech should never be challenged. Their views should be held to the same level of credibility as anyone else’s — fallible opinions and nothing more.
Locklear is an opinion writer. Follow him on Twitter.