Opinion Poisoning

You know what really grinds my gears?  Celebrities who pipe up about their political beliefs when the basis for their stardom has nothing to do with the ridiculous crap they spout from their mouths.

When Brad Pitt declared that he and Angelina Jolie would not marry until everyone in the U.S. who wanted to had the right to, it rang a bit hollow for me.  Why?  Because he’d gotten divorced less than a year prior to saying that.  Not exactly a bastion of marital excellence, so why in the world would anyone listen to his opinions on it?

A metric ton of celebrities rallied to help get Barack Obama elected president* and, while it really ticked me off, I neglected to blog about it.  I was reminded of this pet peeve while driving home this afternoon.  A Green Day song came onto the radio and I remembered how Billie Joe Armstrong was really vocal and obnoxious during election season.

And how his band came out with a subtle-as-a-chainsaw album called American Idiot.

And how he’s wearing eye-liner like an emotionally angsty 13 year old girl and coming out with rock operas, which means he’s tortured and reputable now.

And then I got annoyed all over again.

For a guy who made his fame and fortune writing songs about getting high and whacking off, he’s sure got a lot to say about how our government should be run.  Because he’s smart and stuff.

Look, if I take leave of my sense and want to learn how to smoke a bong, I know exactly who to call.  If I’m interested in titling my book after feces, they’ll be a fine example to learn from.  But, if I want an educated opinion about the way our government works, about how the intricate systems of commerce and law affect our economy and about our role as a country in the world-wide sandbox, the last person I will ever listen to is that guy.

Billie Joe?  Just because you’re wearing eye-liner and singing about politics doesn’t mean anyone should ever listen to you.

It’s not that I’m against celebrities setting a good example by educating themselves and encouraging people to vote.  I just think they should all shut their traps about what they think concerning politics.  If Angelina Jolie wants to talk to me about how she takes care of her hair, I’m all ears.  If Oprah wants to share some investment strategies with me, I’d be happy to take some notes.

But please don’t tell us who you’re voting for.  The rest of America manages not to discuss their political beliefs publicly (because no one wants to listen to it unless they’re genuinely curious or just itching for a fight, and most people are neither) so I don’t see why they can’t shut up too.

*Please note that this has nothing to do with whether or not I support Barack Obama.  I would be annoyed regardless of which politician the celebrities were endorsing.

8 thoughts on “Opinion Poisoning

  1. Thank you for finally blogging about this!!! It has been grinding my gears for years. Pardon my rhyming.

  2. -Delisa, I thought your rhyme was charming :) I’m so glad there are others who share my annoyance! I was a bit hesitant about posting this, so I’m glad to hear I’m not terribly misinformed/a crabby old biddy.

  3. -Blanche, Thanks! It just seems ridiculous to me that celebrities equate their fame with credibility.

  4. Fun post, but I have to disagree with its sweeping nature. While some celebrities are plainly half-witted or otherwise unqualified to advise anyone on politics (or anything else), others are obviously intelligent, thoughtful people. Celebrities don’t differ in this regard from newscasters, journalists, political commentators (if you’ll forgive the expression), and regular everyday people not in the public eye. Celebrities have as much right to express their opinions as anyone else – and we have as much right to decide not to listen to them.

    The fact that stupid celebrity opinions get a lot of play is as appropriately blamed on the media and our crazed celebrity-worshipping culture as on the celebs themselves – many of whom, as you hilariously point out, are just shooting off their mouths. I doubt Billie Joe, for example, equates his fame with credibility (if indeed he even knows what credibility means or how to spell it). And why shouldn’t Brad Pitt use his fame to shine a light on the gay marriage issue if he feels strongly about it?

    Hope this helps a little the next time your gears start to grind. :)

  5. -Debra, Thoughtful and well-put. I do feel that celebrities have a right to have opinions, but I’m not sure it’s responsible for them to speak about them publicly. Our culture is celebrity-obsessed, and while that’s media’s fault, I don’t foresee the problem going away any time soon.

    With this in mind, I think celebrities have an added onus of liability for being sensitive to the weight their statements carry. They have to know that many of the people who can vote will be swayed by hearing who their favorite celebrity is voting for. Knowing this, I think it’s only reasonable to ask that celebrities keep their political opinions out of the public eye.

    I think it’s great when celebrities advocate for change by working with charities and helping out in natural disasters. Putting celebrity to good use is a good thing, but I’m not sure that attending a political rally and telling people who to vote for is a responsible use of that power.

    Why would the gay marriage advocates want Brad Pitt speaking out for them? A man who leaves his wife for another person essentially spits in the face of marriage, so why would anyone be happy to have him on their side? That may be another issue!

  6. Again too sweeping IMO. The onus is not on the celebrity to keep quiet because some starry-eyed moron will take his words too seriously. The onus is on the listener to discern. Censoring – whether for free speech reasons or out of concern (or disrespect) for the ability of the star-crazed to make sound decisions – is a bad idea in a democracy. Both free speech and the respect for each individual’s ability to discern and decide for himself are the essence of the democratic process.

    And neither you nor I nor anyone else other than Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston has any idea whatsoever what went on there. To say he has spit in the face of marriage is ridiculous. People separate and get divorced every day. While these actions may well say something about the people themselves, they can’t be taken as hard evidence of disdain for marriage as an institution. Quite the opposite is possible – it depends entirely on each individual couple’s circumstances.

  7. -Debra, Wow, again with the good points. I realize you have a very good point regarding the role of free speech in a democracy. I would like to say that celebrities should shut up because our country has the unfortunate plight of containing a great many people who idolize celebrity at the cost of informed thought. But, as you so rightly pointed out, it’s not my, or anyone’s job, to censor anyone’s right to speak. Even if they are obnoxious.

    Regarding the Brad Pitt thing…I probably shouldn’t have such a strong opinion on this. After all, all I know about the situation is what I was told through popular media. The evidence does point overwhelmingly toward him becoming involved with Angelina before he and his wife were separated or even divorced.

    That’s why I think he spat in the face of marriage. Not because he got divorced but because he cheated on his wife.

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