Best Of The Web
“Taylor Swift made headlines this October by becoming the most awarded female artist in the history of the American Music Awards. Along with her heightened prominence came Swift’s increased presence in politics. After refraining from discussing politics throughout her career, Swift broke her silence, joining hundreds of celebrities — Katy Perry, Jane Fonda, Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few — in vocalizing their opinions about the current state of affairs. Celebrities have always used their popularity and fan base to influence the public in some way. However, the 2016 election and Trump’s subsequent policies seem to have galvanized stars from across the political spectrum to speak out and state their opinion — any opinion. While celebrities can increase the public’s awareness of certain issues with their mass appeal and broad reach, they often oversimplify complex issues, including intricate social, political, and economic dynamics, to present an easy, catch-all solution.
That is not to say that politicians do not do the same; very rarely are policies fully fleshed out in the media, and often lawmakers themselves do not know exactly what they are voting on. Still, this does not mean that celebrities, if they are going to choose to speak out on controversial topics, should not strive to be as informed on these topics as they possibly can. This has especially important implications considering the main demographic that these celebrities reach through their social media presence: young adults. These individuals tend to heavily rely on social media, often as the main news source (Pew estimates that 88% of the population aged 18-24 use some sort of social media.) Celebrities must take care that the messages they craft are informed and nuanced. Often, that is difficult to accomplish due to the platforms that celebrities utilize to reach their audience: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Limited to 280 characters in a tweet, can stars like Chrissy Teigen and Rosie O’Donnell truly make a substantive argument?
Many celebrities become political activists to fight against some perceived injustice, but some do it for less noble purposes. Kanye West’s recent visit to the White House was a bewildering amalgamation of hydrogen planes, the 13th Amendment, and GIFs. Still, his erratic behavior, despite receiving heavy backlash, has not been completely damning. Last May, when he took to Twitter to rave about Trump, Twitter users were uncertain whether it was a sign of instability or “a masterful piece of performance.” Regardless, the spotlight was on him just as he released his new albums. President Trump used similar tactics, both on the campaign trail and in office, which ultimately served him well. As psychiatrist Allen Frances concludes, Trump has “been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy.” The very behavior that might get someone else diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder was what ultimately helped place Trump in the White House. The rise of social media as an effective means of communication and source of news has normalized the outlandish, transforming the way people and their opinions gain recognition in an increasingly crowded sphere. When influencers such as Trump or West are in the national spotlight, it is difficult to distinguish fact from fallacy, rationale from passion. If one cannot tell the difference, then the ideas that the 18.3 million people following Kanye West on Twitter take away from his messages are gravely flawed.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"But in 2014, Modi was able to emerge from the crowd and dominate. His Hindu nationalist BJP won an outright majority of seats in parliament by especially appealing to voters in the Hindi-speaking parts of central and northern India..."
"...journalism—unlike, say, medicine, law, or architecture—is a profession that any person can practice. There are no licensing or education requirements, and we journalists generally think that this is a good thing"
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu desperately needs to conclude coalition talks by May 28. His future coalition should serve to protect him from impending indictment."
"Earlier this month, Alabama Public Television decided not to run an episode featuring a same-sex marriage on the PBS animated television series, Arthur."
"How did he amass three houses and a net worth approaching at least $2 million? The surprisingly conventional middle-class climbing of a radical-sounding socialist."
"In this new digital world, she argues, everything is documented, everything is tagged, and anything can surface at any moment. We’re losing the ability to forget, and therefore we’re losing the ability to distance ourselves from our past."
"In championing ‘slowness in human relations’, the Slow Movement appears conservative, while constructively calling for valuing local cultures, whether in food and agriculture, or in preserving slower, more biological rhythms..."
"The dual nature of power and truth results in the curious fact that we humans know many more truths than any other animal, but we also believe in much more nonsense."
"A hefty portion of people who Google for more information on getting married during the workweek seem to be wondering two things: Do people have weekday weddings? And is it okay to have one?"
"“Lox” derives from the Germanic word for salmon: Yiddish (laks), German (Lachs), Swedish (lax). True lox is cured salmon belly and is not smoked, though categories have blurred over the years..."
"A recent United Nations-backed report highlighted the scale of destruction humans are inflicting on the natural world. To reverse these trends, humanity must transform its economic models and food system..."
"Pittsburgh and Poway were an abstract horror for me until last week, when the arson wave hit my own Chicago synagogue. U.S. Jews now join Europe's Jews in facing ongoing anti-Semitic violence against us and our sanctuaries..."