President. Prime Minister. Celebrity. What do all of these types of people have in common? Every single one of them holds a type of power over the population. The President and Prime Minister obviously have a little more actual power in terms of the shaping of societal structures and laws, and yet celebrities also have the ability to affect change on a cultural level.
The idea of a celebrity holding power is quite amusing and disturbing in many ways. For one, it is shocking to think that one person, someone who is famous for their ability to act and not their humanitarian efforts or other valuable acts, can have so much of an impact on people’s lives.
A certain hairstyle changes and suddenly girls are flocking to salons. A new male clothing line is released and guys are buying items they never would have worn previously. Celebrities set examples, whether they mean to or not.
Perhaps one of the calmest and coolest celebrities out there is Jennifer Lawrence. She has the power to directly affect change, and yet doesn’t take advantage of it. She doesn’t have her own makeup line, clothing line, or fitness routine that she is selling to other women. Instead, she has been quoted saying do your own thing and stop copying others.
This leads to the idea of celebrities using their status to do good. Take a look at Kristen Bell. She has a net worth of roughly $15 million and yet she recently made a video with the Huffington Post entitled “Pinksourcing” which attempts to bring awareness to a purported wage gap and sexism in the workplace.
A lot of people are enraged that the Huffington Post picked a successful female celebrity to discuss the wage gap. Yet Kristen Bell handles the topic fairly well, and talks about the issues as if they mean something to her as well. Sure, she is a well-paid female, which doesn’t hold up to the “wage gap” issue, but she is a woman and has felt the sting that most woman feel. Keep in mind before she was a celebrity she was a “normal” person making the same scab wages to send herself through school. She worked to get to where she is and is now fighting for something.
Let’s get real for a minute. Everyone who is complaining about the Huffington Post using a super successful woman in the video… who would you rather have? Do you want someone who no one knows making this argument? Sure, they would probably better fit the cause of the video, but who is going to watch it?
Celebrities sell, plain and simple. They sell perfume and makeup, clothing lines, as well as movements and ideas that no one would otherwise bat an eye at. Her voice is heard because people want to hear it. In the process, she is helping other people’s voices be heard. Why should that be a bad thing?
While I agree that it can be scary that celebrities hold any kind of power it is important to note that, to quote Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility”. If the celebrity is using their power to aid others, why not let them?
Likewise, if a celebrity is using their power to hinder groups and individuals, why allow it? They are just people, like you and I, and their power comes from people, like you and I. Remember that the next time you see someone famous: their fame, and power, is only possible because you allow it to be.