It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when this social justice movement began. It’s progressed as I’ve grown up and in some senses I struggle to remember a time without the online movement. Whilst I completely admire and respect the velocity and determination of the movement, I struggle sometimes with the culture of calling celebrities out.
If, like me, you have travelled through this movement and have come out the other end—knowlegable on topics like intersectional feminism Black Lives Matter—you will have a fair understanding of what is considered right and wrong in social justice circles. You understand that when celebrities say offensive things—demonising and criticising groups of people on the basis of skin colour, religious belief, gender or sexuality—that is wrong and should be challenged. However, what I struggle with, is calling celebrities out for past mistakes and writing them off because of the mistakes. I’m pretty sure if you were to look at my twitter as a young teen you’d find some sexist or homophobic things, simply because—I’m not ashamed to admit it—at one point I did hold onto those views.
But the thing with social justice is that it’s a totally slow-moving and continuous battle. Whilst my views as an early teen were questionable, I have learned from them. I’ve learnt so much about politics, feminism, socialism and challenging sterotypes through this online movement. I’ve become empowered as a young woman and wear feminism proudly as a badge on my chest. But there’s such a pressure within this online community to be perfect and—let’s face it—no one is. Now, I am not in any way defending any public figure or celebrity that endorses hatred and fuels negativity towards minorities. But I am suggesting that we’re a little too quick to cut celebrities off, simply because of one thing they’ve said.
If I were to support celebrities, it can be argued that living your life in such open quarters and having millions of people have direct access to your life is difficult and strange. Even the most “principled” of those in this social justice community have to admit that they have at some point said things they regretted. But does this make somebody a bad person? This obsession with “dragging” celebrities and spitting hatred at them for tiny, unimportant comments taken out of context is damning.
And if a celebrity, who on the whole is feminist and liberally inclined, makes one comment you disagree with, do they need to be written off so quickly and dramatically? Often online communities don’t even give celebrities chances to explain themselves before they block them and vow to never view their content again. Personally, I believe education is a far more powerful tool than downright dismissal. If a celebrity speaks out in a problematic way, do you not think it’s more beneficial to this movement as a whole to educate them on why what they said was wrong? Or at least give them a chance to learn on their own?
Pressuring someone to change their views and attacking them so forcefully for sharing them discourages them from trying to better themselves. This whole movement has brought about fear—fear of asking questions and trying to learn more without being seen as ignorant and problematic. There are so many issues and aspects of American politics that I, as an English person, do not understand. I may sometimes say something that’s wrong. But it’s much more mature and progressive to educate me on why I was wrong, instead of ruling me out all-together.