In the months since the nomination and election of Donald Drumpf, we have seen a certain word used more frequently across social media than ever before — platform. It’s Twitter’s new favorite word, and its overuse is starting to result in a lack of impact when using it.
In a heated political climate, celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez (notice the lack of males) have been criticized for not telling their millions of fans or the general public who they’re voting for. Swift did post to her 104.7 million Instagram followers on election day, captioning a pic of her ready to go into the booth, “Today is the day. Go out and VOTE.” Despite not endorsing one candidate over another, she curated 2.1 million likes, making her post the most liked (and viewed) that day.
Many during and after the election have criticized Swift and her bestie Selena Gomez for choosing not to disclose who they decided to vote for in the 2016 election. This brings us back to that word — platform. The most common argument made is that with the whopping amount of Instagram followers these two have (both have crossed the 100 million mark), they should’ve been sending a signal loud and clear — VOTE LIBERAL! VOTE HILARY! There’s a lot to unpack and a lot of reasons why that isn’t fair to the pop princesses or to us.
By implying that Taylor or Selena could have influenced the way someone voted, you imply that Americans aren’t intelligent enough to look at both candidate’s policies and decide for themselves who will be the most effective leader for our country. Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, even Queen Bey herself all endorsed Hillary Clinton. The social media approval of Swift or Gomez would not have had any more impact than any other powerful female celebrity.
One of Clinton’s most prominent celebrity spokespeople was pop powerhouse Katy Perry. Perry was seen at the DNC, encouraging young people to vote with the message, “On Nov. 8, you’ll be just as powerful as any NRA lobbyist.” She performed two of her girl-power hits, “Rise” and “Roar,” the latter of which was used in one of Clinton’s ad campaigns. This year, with a new album and tour to promote, Perry sat down with Neil deGrasse Tyson, who asked: “Is math related to science?”
It’s okay for Katy Perry to not know the answer to that — she’s Katy Perry. That’s not her job, which is precisely the point. The intricacies of issues like infrastructure and justice system reformation are going to be worked out amongst the men and women who have worked tirelessly for decades to represent us, i.e. Hillary Clinton. To put blind trust in a pop star when going to cast a ballot is to do yourself and your country a massive disservice.
That being said, of course people with millions of people listening should use their voice for more than just their artistic projects, and of course it’s OK for pop stars to publicly endorse a candidate. However, there are ways to use your voice for good that don’t require shouting from the rooftops who you voted for, and we’re not entitled to know which candidate they bubbled in on Nov. 8, 2016.
Despite not directly saying who she was voting for, Selena Gomez has championed DACA, publicly worn a necklace supporting the ACLU and used her life-threatening battle against lupus to inspire millions of others suffering from the incurable disease.
Swift publicly went to court to defend herself from a lawsuit brought on by a radio DJ who groped her in a meet and greet on her Red World Tour. She brought awareness to sexual assault and won her trial. The reward? A symbolic one dollar bill for all victims of assault and a message of inspiration for her plethora of female fans.
This is where we have to step back and ask ourselves, are we upset, because celebrities don’t use their platforms, or are we upset, because they don’t use them in the way that we would?