Should celebrities stay out of politics? | The Tylt

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Should celebrities stay out of politics?
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#TakeASeatHollywood

Kanye West and Taylor Swift find themselves on opposing sides yet again. Kanye visited the Oval Office and delivered one of the most bizarre press gaggles in recent history. Swift used Instagram to endorse a Democratic candidate and encouraged her followers to vote—prompting thousands to register at Vote.org. Some say celebrities' involvement in politics cheapens the democratic process by infusing the drama of Hollywood. Others argue celebrities have a responsibility to use their platform to increase awareness for issues they care about. What do you think? 

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Should celebrities stay out of politics?
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Celebrities bring an obvious "cool" factor to everything they touch. Regardless of what they are famous for, their title implies fandom, envy, and awe. So when Taylor Swift told her million-plus Instagram followers to "Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values," the appeal did not fall on deaf ears. 

CNN's John Avlon discusses the good and bad side of "Poliwood," a politics-Hollywood hybrid, and claims that:

At its best, Poliwood makes it cool to care, leveraging celebrity to galvanize support for something more important than celebrity. As George Clooney said during his work to bring international attention to the genocide in Darfur and the need to end decades of civil war in South Sudan, 'Celebrity can help focus news media where they have abdicated their responsibility. We can't make policy, but we can "encourage" politicians more than ever before.'
#TakeASeatHollywood

Meanwhile, Kanye is wreaking havoc on his fanbase by demonstrating ardent support for Trump. The rapper visited the Oval Office to discuss prison reform and gun violence, but he ended up ranting about the superpowers bestowed on him by his "MAGA" hat. Even Trump looked confused. 

The Washington Post's Chris Richards breaks down Kanye's visit: 

He seemed to be on some kind of script at the White House, though, peppering his loud thoughts with right-wing talking points. He doubled down on his proposal to abolish the 13th Amendment. He suggested that the black community only supports the Democratic Party because of a dependency on welfare. He blamed gun violence on 'illegal guns,' and said that he stood for the Second Amendment. By the end of the day, the National Rifle Association had tweeted that its 'members are glad to see a celebrity who gets it.'

Many argue that Kanye is just trying to be "Trump's guy," and Trump is along for the ride and increased spotlight. CNN's Avlon adds:

Whether Poliwood is a force for good or simply a glittering distraction depends on this question: What's actually accomplished?
If a celebrity endorsement just benefits a politician looking to boost their profile and prove their cool, then it's a lame effort to manipulate fans with short attention spans.

More recently, Kanye faced harsh criticism for his meeting with Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, with some claiming Museveni is using Kanye to get on Trump's radar. 

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Some might argue that celebrities have a special civic duty to use their platform for politics, humanitarian interests and more. This October, Chance the Rapper, noted Chicagoan, used his platform to endorse little-known Chicago mayoral candidate, Amara Enyia. 15 candidates are running in Chicago's mayoral election, making it a competitive race and Chance's endorsement all the more meaningful.

Chance called for a press conference at City Hall and claimed he chose to endorse Enyia due to their shared vision for the city they love. The Chicago Tribune's Bill Ruthhart reports: 

In backing Enyia, Chance is lending his star power in an attempt to improve the viability of a long-shot campaign. Enyia has little name recognition across the city, has never been elected to office and quickly dropped a bid for mayor four years ago after the petition signatures she collected to appear on the ballot were challenged.
 Enyia said key to her campaign will be working with community groups to register new voters. Chance predicted his involvement with Enyia’s campaign would lead to a new record for the number of 18- to 25 year-olds voting in a Chicago election.

In this chase, Chance recognizes the power his voice has. He even commented at the press conference, "I’d like to say very narcissistically: If I back you, you have a chance, absolutely." Regardless of the outcome of Chicago's mayoral election, Chance's participation will undoubtedly lead to more votes cast and increased conversations about the positions of each candidate.

#TakeASeatHollywood

Celebrity participation in politics can take form in more ways than Oval Office visits and Instagram posts; celebrities can also share their opinion through their art. Although free speech is essential to democracy, the country's current hyper-partisanship has resulted in unprecedented–some might say inappropriate–forms of presidential criticism. 

Rapper T.I. recently used a Melania Trump lookalike in a video he posted to Twitter. The Melania figure appears to strip in the oval office for the hip-hop star. The first lady's office responded by calling the video "disgusting," and clearly disrespectful to one of the country's most important public figures. There's a line at which political dissent moves beyond decency and, for many, T.I.'s video does just that. 

T.I. isn't the first celebrity to blatantly disrespect the office of the president. Comedian Kathy Griffin faced bipartisan criticism after posting a photo of herself holding a fake, bloodied severed head–the head of Donald Trump. 

In these cases, celebrities' participation in politics obviously falls in the category of "criticism" rather than activism, but the way in which they go about it does more harm than good. 

FINAL RESULTS
Should celebrities stay out of politics?
#FreeSpeechForStars
A festive crown for the winner
#TakeASeatHollywood
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