My local news station ran a poll post-Grammy’s. After the Tribe/Paak/Busta collaboration. About whether or not celebrities should voice their opinions, political and otherwise. Less than 20% wanted to hear that sort of thing. Which is, in fact, the biggest load of hypocritical bullshit I’ve ever seen. For a bit of clarification, it’s best that you know I live south of the Mason-Dixon. My own political leanings are atypical of my small town upbringing. I’m a bit of a freak here, really. And yet I don’t know many people who hold their political cards closer to the vest. Sure, it may be because I prefer to avoid the villagers gathering their pitchforks, but I also dislike confrontation as a general rule. I’m the angriest pacifist I know. That isn’t to say that I don’t want to hear other people’s thoughts on issues, assuming they mean what they say and have a reason for it.
Celebrities are people too. I know that’s hard to comprehend. They do look awfully tall standing on the pedestals we put them on. But if you had such a public platform and believed in something strongly, what would you do? I don’t think many people who are impassioned about something would hesitate in using that platform for a cause they believe in. And there’s nothing fucking wrong with that. How are Beyonce’s political leanings not a part of who she is? She’s a complete human being. She has emotions. She has thoughts. She has opinions. So essentially my queen needs to keep her mouth shut, but your racist uncle can vent his spleen on Facebook or Twitter every day?. I seem to have missed something there. Like a logical progression. Anyway.
That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to the opinions of celebrities I don’t agree with. I think it’s important for everyone to have an opinion. It’s our only way to keep from going numb in a world of apathy. I really do detest apathy a hell of a lot more than I could ever detest a conservative. I don’t disregard the music or opinions of Ted Nugent, no matter how much I’d like to. And I’m sure to hell not going to stop listening to Megadeth just because Dave Mustaine didn’t vote for Obama. Just like it would be ridiculous of a person to stop being friends with another because of said leanings.
It could be and often has been argued that the vocalness of some celebrities is just making our nation more divided. But I don’t buy into that bullshit. If anything, we should applaud these people for starting a conversation we were too scared to have ourselves. It’s admirable. Because they know the kind of shit storm that you are going to get when you’re loud. Kind of like when you end up in an argument with your conservative uncle at Thanksgiving. It isn’t going to be easy to get out of it. But getting out of it isn’t really the point.
An artist’s place is in the revolution. That’s one thing history has taught us, though we all seem to be unwilling to learn from our mistakes. Art captures our tumult. It makes us take a step back. Sometimes it makes us smile. Sometimes it makes us cry. Sometimes it just makes us think. And if you think you’re going to keep an artist down, you’re delusional. An artist becomes an artist through one of millions of paths. Many of them not particularly light. But I like to think we all do it for the same reason. We all want to think our voices matter. Somehow, I like to think they do.