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We need to stop seeking celebrity opinions

Eden Liu / The SPOKE

By Jui Bhatia, Co-Opinion Editor

Often, the first thing on most people’s minds after a divisive conflict has arisen is, “What does my favorite celebrity think about this?” People’s tendency to seek out celebrity opinions as a means of informing and justifying their own is harmful to the causes they seek to support and to celebrities themselves.

If you depend on or rely on celebrities’ opinions to keep you informed on what is going on in the world, you are not alone. According to The Hollywood Reporter, an organization that focuses on pop culture news, 53% of American adults surveyed felt that celebrity opinions do hold some power to sway people. For example, soon after the media began reporting on the Israel-Hamas war, people turned to their favorite celebrities for opinions, both to educate and justify themselves. Fans pressured their favorite celebrities to take a stance, and as a result, they spread falsities.

A prominent example is Justin Bieber, who posted a video of Palestinian children with a caption saying the video was from Israel. The post was entirely inaccurate,  misinforming many of his 291 million followers in the process.

Moreover, fake celebrity endorsements meant to spread misinformation about a celebrity’s stance, with the goal of swaying people to support either side of an issue, have flooded social media. One of these deep fakes — fake videos and pictures that are nearly indistinguishable as fakes — is a fake picture of soccer star Lionel Messi holding up the Israeli flag. Not only are these deep fakes rampant, they can also be tough to identify and weed out due to endless reposts and a lack of clarification, making it impossible to determine what is genuine and what is not. Such instances just make it more important to not rely on celebrity opinions floating around on social media and show how easily manipulatable these statements and pictures often can be.

Such statements are also fundamentally useless without action. Most celebrities just release statements following conflicts without any action to back up their position. Not only are they setting an example of inaction, they are also not using their platform to affect meaningful change.

Selena Gomez, the third-most followed person on Instagram, posted on her story on Nov. 23 that she wishes she “could change the world, but a post won’t.” As someone with 430 million followers, Gomez’s message lacks action. Her assertion that a post will do nothing is fundamentally false: Celebrities such as Hasan Minhaj, Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson have raised money for causes they support through their posts and have organized protests for these causes.

Celebrity opinions only serve to make the information and social media environment around international conflicts worse. Depending on such opinions to educate oneself is a terrible tactic and misinforms millions of people. Celebrities need to research their stance before presenting an argument and need to back up their stance by taking action.

Jui Bhatia can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jui Bhatia, Co-Opinion Editor
Jui Bhatia is a senior and the Co-Opinion Editor of The Spoke. She has previously served as the Managing Editor and Beats Editor. She usually writes editorial pieces about pop culture and national news. She is also an artist, and has created cartoons for The Spoke. She heads the Desi Club and is an active participant of Conestoga's Students Organized Against Racism group.