In recent months, politics has become a buzzword. Some people relish in discussing politics, while others are deeply opposed. From classrooms to coffee shops, it has become increasingly rare to stay away from the subject. Even celebrities, such as Rihanna and JK Rowling, are turning to social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to express their views. It’s not too difficult to notice a pattern emerging in the comments section of these sites: while many people support their political commentary, there is also great and often antagonistic resistance to it.
On January 28th, in response to President Trump’s executive order of the so-called Muslim ban, Rihanna exclaimed on Twitter: “Disgusted! The news is devastating! America is being ruined right before our eyes! What an immoral pig you have to be to implement such BS!!” Earning 150,000 retweets and nearly 400,000 likes, it was clear that she expressed an opinion that resonated with many. However, fellow singer Azealia Banks thought differently about Rihanna’s comment, responded (on what are now deleted posts): “As far as [R]ihanna (who isn’t a citizen, and can’t vote) and all the rest of the celebrities who are using their influence to stir the public, you lot really REALLY need to shut up and sit down…. Stop chastising the president. It’s stupid and pathetic to watch… Hoping the president fails is like getting on an airplane and hoping the pilot crashes.”
In a similar way, JK Rowling was also told to “shut up and sit down.” Commenting on the Muslim ban and the experiences of those being detained at American airports, she posted on Twitter: “When I worked for Amnesty International in the 80s, these were the kind of stories told by political prisoners in dictatorships.” In response, an individual known as Mr. America on Twitter responded: “You’re a grown ass woman whose entire career is based on stories about a nerd who turns people into frogs. Stay out of politics.”
“Shut up and sit down.” “Stay out of politics.” Do celebrities like Rihanna and JK Rowling warrant such responses because the realm of politics isn’t necessarily their expertise? If you’re a singer or an author, does that automatically make your political opinions and engagement moot? Isn’t Azealia Banks, a fellow singer, being hypocritical in her response due to it’s political nature? Telling people to “stop chastising the president” is political commentary. Should she practice what she preaches? What makes “Mr. America” qualified to tell a person to stay out of politics? What makes his opinion any more valid?
Taking the high road, Rihanna posted an image on Instagram with the caption: “the face you make when you an immigrant. #stayawayfromourchickens”. Comments telling people to remain silent only promote ignorance and shallow discussion. Now, more than ever, individuals should engage in open discussion to hold those in power accountable and to understand different points of view. JK Rowling says it best: “In – Free – Countries – Anyone – Can – Talk – About – Politics.”