The Rise of the Celebritician / by Matthew Ponder

Yo Taylor- I’m really happy for you- I’ll let you finish- but your recent political rally cry is one of the best of all time. One of the best of all time!

Celebrities and public figures outside the realm of politics have zero obligation to express their partisan views and Taylor Swift is certainly no exception. Earlier this week via social media- Taylor endorsed Tennessee Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate and Rep. Jim Cooper for the House in this year’s midterm election. Swift, who has admittedly been disinclined to share her views throughout her career credits objectionable voting records, gender inequality, LGBTQ rights and racial injustice as the catalyst to her new voice. Taylor also noted that “several events” she now feels differently about contributed to her post.

Time Magazine’s recognition of Swift as a “Silence Breaker” for outing David Mueller, the radio DJ found guilty of groping her in 2013 positioned her as a voice for this generation. Unsurprisingly- there has already been a wave of backlash towards Swift- something akin to Nike’s decision to support former NFL quarterback and activist- Colin Rand Kaepernick.

No artist or living being for that matter is expected to remain static. Many celebrities, in fear of tarnishing their brands embrace the risk-averse approach and remain as apolitical as possible. Be that as it may- the vulnerability and high stakes of current politics has led to celebrities willing to put political correctness aside en masse for views, likes and air-time. These opportunistic figures e.g. Kanye West, Hulk Hogan, Dennis Rodman, Teresa Giudice, Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Mike Tyson, Dana White, Stacey Dash, Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson and Roseanne Barr (to name a few) are the personification of inimical influence in the 21st century.

Celebrities using their platform to call for change is to be expected. The problem arises when adoring fans forget these people are not in positions of appointed power, but rather-- just one voice among countless others. Our current administration’s success at exploiting our infrastructure along with the the anxieties and xenophobia of our nation should be the ultimate red flag. More than ever, we should be encouraged to remain informed, respectful and undeterred by political affiliation.