“Diet Activism”: Why Subtle Celebrity Politics Gotta Go
Posted by Kenyetta Whitfield
February 9, 2017
The date is February 10th, 2017 and subtle celebrity politics are. Officially. Dead.
At least they are for me. There is no way in hell I will force myself to go through the slew of articles and “think pieces” about why Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show was “so political omg.” Or why a television show’s cast gave a moving speech at a ritzy awards show that is somehow suppose to touch even the most grizzly of us. It’s tired, trivial, and often overshadows the work of those who are actively putting their lives on the line to make concrete change.
Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrities. Pop culture flows through my veins, pumping straight from my superficial heart just like plenty of young adults. I spend countless hours each week watching music videos, consuming media, and reading celebrity gossip. So no, 2017 is not the death of celebrity; it’s just the death of eagerly accepting and praising bare bones celebrity activism and sorry attempts at what can only loosely be described as “feminism.”
Let’s dissect Lady Gaga’s recent Super Bowl halftime performance. The superstar opened with “This Land is Your Land” which supposedly was a super “powerful” testament, considering President Trump’s recent immigration ban. It’s cute, even admirable, that Lady Gaga decided to do this. As she sang, I’m sure she even briefly shed an internal tear for the many Americans foregoing the colossal capitalist machine that is the Super Bowl, due to overwhelming stress caused by the immigration ban.
And thus is the problem with this new wave of celebrity “diet activism.”
Lady Gaga singing “Born This Way” at the Super Bowl and the Stranger Things cast encouraging us to punch Nazis at the SAG Awards really does nothing for us. Trump’s behavior throughout his entire campaign (and now presidency) has been bold and unapologetic. This is why bold displays of resistance like the Women’s March (though problematic in some ways) were seen as the start of something revolutionary for many Americans. No longer would we hypothetically sit behind our phones and tweet our activism like plenty of conservatives believe. No – instead we were organizing, protesting and voicing our concerns.
Celebrity activism is the antithesis of the revolution. Feminism lite and diet activism belong to the same people that think calling yourself “lady boss” is radical.
In addition, if we are to trust that celebrity activism is in some way powerful or dare I say – radical, then we cannot be afraid to point out hypocrisy. What does it do for us, in Trump’s America to say we are “Born This Way” if we continue to spew racist language like Gaga does when say uses the word “orient?” It’s not nit-picking, its imperative. The revolution against bigotry can be neither racist nor sexist nor transphobic nor ableist.
So, until Lady Gaga and any well meaning celebrity can offer me that, I am out. A revolution never started at a Super Bowl halftime show and it most likely never will.