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The 2018 Golden Globes was hit in so many ways but the moment that stood the most for everyone was the speech by Oprah Winfrey. Her powerful speech highlighting the issues around gender equality and women empowerment resonated with women all over the world. Within hours of the video being out, people took to Twitter with the hashtag Oprah for president and US media was brimming with debates around her candidacy and around the issue of celebrity politicians in general.
Throughout her speech, I was overcome with emotions and even found myself weeping at the end of it. But as incredible and inspiring her speech did you think it suffices to qualify her to be the president of a country whose politics influences almost the entire world or are their other prerequisites to becoming the president.
— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) January 8, 2018
Celebrity politicians aren’t something new. We have seen our fair share of celebrity politicians in the past. Think only of former cricketer Imran Khan who is now the leader of Pakistan’s leading political party(PTI) or wrestler Jesse Ventura who served as the senator of Minnesota from 1993 until 2003 or Hollywood movie star Ronald Reagen who made it to the US presidency.
The trend has only grown strong ever since with celebrities like Dwayne Johnson and Caitlyn Jenner hinting at their intentions to run for office in the upcoming elections. But should we really vote for them especially when we are constantly reminded from the current example of US presidency of how fatal and dangerous it could be?
We all recognize Jenner from Olympics and Johnson from his movies, you must be living under the rock if you haven’t watched The Central Intelligence, but how many of us know of their knowledge in international relations, foreign policy or domestic policy. None. And that is incredibly problematic and troublesome. Yet, this doesn’t seem to prevent these celebs to garner enough votes to be elected in those positions which obviously does not come as a surprise, given the fact that they are incredibly recognizable and have built a profound connection with their audience over the years of being in the entertainment industry.
But what is incredibly disappointing is the fact that people vote for the characters that these celebrities have played and not the person they are in real and this has serious consequences once these celebs are in the oval office and will have to make crucial and effective decisions for the well being and better functionality of the country. None of this is to say that all celebs are unqualified and misfit to run the country.
I acknowledge the fact there are some qualified celebs out there with genuine intentions to insight change in the world and I truly applaud them for their selflessness and noble desires, however, as kind these celebrities might be and as much as they seem to do the right thing, they will never still be able to truly understand what it is like to be a middle class, to work a double shift and not having the choice of not doing so because you are the sole breadwinner of the family, to live in affordable housing and having to pay for your children’s college.
They cannot relate to this, not because they don’t want to but because they just cannot because their life has been an absolute bliss, surrounded by luxury and wealth. We often pretend to be in each other’s world every now and then, that we can feel their pain, hardship, and struggle but the fact will continue to remain that only the one that has lived through the difficulties can fathom. So how can the celebs who are genuinely motivated to make a difference really change the world? To answer that, we already have multiple examples of celebrities down the road who have fruitfully used their celebrity status to promote social activism and draw attention to issues that require more support.
Consider Miley Cyrus who has used her spotlight to give voice to the marginalized LGBTQ youth in America or Demi Lovato who has put great efforts into raising awareness around mental health issues and reducing the stigma around them. These celebrities don’t see the need to run for president to inspire change.
They don’t wait for the time to rise to those positions of authority because they believe that their celebrity status is capable of so much already. They are the celebs that truly inspire us, who embolden us, make us believe that we are capable of creating an impact, regardless of the titles and positions and we are in desperate need of more like them.