We need to reject celebrities who behave immorallyBy Emma Royal | 12/03/2017 5:53pm
Recently, I found myself in conversation with family and friends that have political views that are completely opposite my own. We discussed the recent sexual assault allegations against dozens of celebrities and politicians, including the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K.
The most universal conclusion we could come to is that sexual assault is wrong and should be condemned, which is hardly a groundbreaking revelation. But we can’t just denounce the heinous actions of celebrities — we need to actually change the way we perceive celebrities as a nation, so that we may be able to re-align ourselves within this time of chaos.
We may bring awareness to celebrity misconduct, but we cannot reverse the decisions that those in artistic power have made in the past. The only way to invoke change is to seek out prevention methods and amplify the voices that have been silenced for so long. We must choose to adjust how we hold celebrities within our own moral lenses.
Celebrities are flawed individuals, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Constant public awareness of their opinions, daily activities, and history amplifies their missteps. For celebrities that we particularly dislike, they allow us to feel better about our own lives and mistakes. At least you aren’t spending exorbitant amounts of money on designer clothes and sports cars and champagne like them. At least you’re smart enough to not share political affiliation with this person.
Conversely, when we worship our favorite celebrities, we find ourselves able to excuse the actions that are often far more despicable than the blunders of any celebrity that we deem “lesser.” Sure, a multitude of women and colleagues came forward and accused your favorite director of sexual misconduct, but he’s such a visionary. This double standard is backward and twisted.
It is absolutely incredible that survivors finally feel comfortable enough to come forward. They are an inspiration to everyone who has been hurt and we should value their voices. Those who question survivors’ motives for coming forward after years of secrecy do not understand the gravity of testimony against men and women in positions of power.
“Making it” in the spheres of politics, business, and entertainment is notoriously difficult, and we as Americans possess a dangerous “work before everything else” mentality. We are told to suppress feelings that will complicate your professional relationships, even when they are destroying you. Letting them ring free is heroic.
It should be obvious that you should not support sexual predators, regardless of the quality of their work. Sacrificing your love of a comedy special for the sake of assault survivors everywhere is a basic lesson in human empathy.
As a consumer, you have a responsibility to support ethical business practices. That responsibility extends to the content of art and the personal matters of artists. Idolizing celebrities and politicians does nothing for you and is a slap in the face to victims everywhere.
When we make excuses for celebrities that we do not know and continue to support them, we say to survivors, “Justice for you is not worth sacrificing my celebrity idolatry.”
Making a judgment regarding the strength of character of someone you’ve never met based on your enjoyment of their art or work is a non-sequitur. Bad people can create good art and do good things, but we cannot separate actions and true content of character.
If the exposure of a celebrity’s past has disappointed you in the past few weeks, ask yourself why. Were you upset because you could no longer support one of your favorite films or comedy specials guilt-free or were you upset because of the pervasive sexual assault that plagues our world and is showing no signs of stopping? If it is difficult for you to grapple with the realization that your favorite celebrity is not who you thought they were, think of how difficult it is to have known all along from a life-altering personal experience and then watch your assailant rise to wealth, power, and fame.
We have a chance now to define a new standard for how we treat those who have hurt others in the pursuit of power. Do not purchase or view content from them on streaming platforms. Do not elect them to public office. Do everything in your power to ensure that victims receive justice. Cling to what is good and true, and not what will ultimately lead to moral failure.
Emma Royal is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly.