It’s a Friday night and there I am scrolling through my Instagram feed without really looking at it when I suddenly realise that a lot of people are posting about the same thing: Before the Flood – a documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio on climate change. I love a good documentary and as it’s free on YouTube via the National Geographic channel I thought I might as well give it a watch. And I’m very glad I did; it’s eye opening, beautiful, terrifying, thought-provoking, all the words that should be associated with a documentary that keeps a 23 year old inside on a Friday night.
However, there are some people who are not so flattering about the documentary and this is mainly due to the fact that a Hollywood celebrity is at the centre of it.
‘Why should we care what Leonardo DiCaprio thinks about climate change?’, people ask. ‘He’s an actor. What makes him an expert?’ (This is a nice version of some of the things I’ve read)
Do they have a point? In all honesty, probably. Yet I only watched the thing because I love watching Leo on the screen. Would I have watched it if it was presented by a climatologist who I’d never heard of? In all honesty, probably not.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, though. Millions of people have now been educated on a world threatening issue and know how they can make a difference and Leo has enabled that. He might not be an ‘expert’ – he’s the first person to admit that he has a lot to learn – but he’s certainly passionate and willing to put himself out there.
But why, despite this huge accomplishment, are many of the reviews telling Leo to get back to his day job? Why is it so offensive that he should have a passion besides acting? Well, from what I can tell, once one is branded a ‘celebrity’ they must never speak about non-celebrity matters henceforth. No. Shh. You are a celebrity shell, only good for looking pretty and having relationships with other celebrity shells. You are not a person; stop acting like one. (I feel like there’s a Black Mirror episode in here somewhere.)
Take Lily Allen and Gary Lineker for example. They had the nerve to talk about the blatant demonisation of refugees that is constantly being projected across the press. Allen received death threats when she visited the Calais camp and apologised on ‘behalf of [her] country’ for the way the refugees are being treated (see her article on Vice for more). Instead of reacting with compassion and sympathy for these victims the main consensus was how dare she speak for me!!! How dare she speak for MY country.
I mean, these are actual suffering humans being treated like the scum of the earth. But still. The real issue is definitely Lily Allen. She’s a singer, not a human rights activist!!! She should stop chatting shit and get on with singing.
Similarly, when Gary Lineker disagreed with the masses by tweeting
the treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless
the Sun declared that he be sacked from the BBC. Well what did he expect? He’s a former footballer/presenter. He has no right to be honest, to voice an opinion on something really earth-shatteringly important.
(I really hope my sarcasm is coming across here.)
Should celebrities even have opinions? And if they have to shouldn’t they just keep it to themselves?!
How ridiculous these questions seem to me.
Because these celebrities are more than their jobs, just like the rest of us. They are people. I’m allowed an opinion. I don’t get told to hang myself for posting these blogs. Nobody tells me to leave my job. I’ve never been accused of not being an expert in something I’ve tweeted about. Passion is for everyone, no matter your job, race, age, gender. So why are celebrities being fought against everyday for being human?
I don’t know the answer to this.
Sophia Bush, an actor and supporter of Hillary Clinton wrote this, which is everything I’m trying to say today and more:
For everyone who has taken to the Internet to call me names today, and every day that I have ever shared my personal opinion on my personal page, way to reinforce the hatred and bullying and constant demeaning of people that you are saying doesn’t exist.
To all of my conservative friends who’ve said, “we may not agree but we love your passion and your desire to fight for what you believe in,” thank you. And to everyone who does align with what I’m saying who has taken time out of their day to say “keep it up,” or “thank you for not hiding,” or “thanks for the articles that actually fact check,” you mean a lot to me in the constant onslaught of hate that is the Internet these days.
My job is not who I am. It is my job. The person who does it — the person I am when I wake up and when I talk to my mom on the phone — clocks in and out every day. The person who you are telling to “commit suicide” and save you a split second to scroll past on instagram, who you are calling a “dumb cunt,” who you are saying “should see what sexual assault feels like,” and who you are just straight up saying you “used to love but now hate,” or you’d “still fuck despite my political views” (PS never happening, bro) is an actual person.
I think the deep rooted question that stems from all this is: should society dictate celebrities?
And when it’s put like that this whole thing seems rather silly.
Jesse Tyler Fegurson, (aka Mitchell from Modern Family aka my spirit animal) sums the issue up well in this instagram post (he was called out for having an opinion on politics).
Sometimes I think it would be beneficial for society to remember:
people are people are people are people
whether they’re celebrities, refugees, employed, unemployed, black, white, male female, outspoken, shy, etc etc etc
Everybody is just trying to get through life.
Lots of love, big fat human love